The variant was first identified among passengers returning from the UK in early January
The new UK variant of coronavirus was found in Bangladesh in January, reports BBC Bangla. Even though it was first detected in January, the matter has only now come to light, the report furthered.
Professor Tahmina Shirin, director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) told BBC that the variant was first identified among passengers returning from the UK in early January. She, however, did not answer why this information was not disclosed earlier.
Professor Shirin said the first passenger to be detected with the new variant landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka from the UK. There, IEDCR identified the new strain of coronavirus in the UK by sequencing the genome samples collected from the passenger.
Later, the new variant was also found among passengers landing at Osmani International Airport in Sylhet.
A total of six people carrying the variant have been identified so far.
Professor Shirin added that, in order to prevent community transmission, IEDCR ensured contact tracing of identified individuals and they are still under IEDCR surveillance. IEDCR is also keeping track of the health of those who had been affected.
Ever since the outbreak and rapid transmission of the new strain of coronavirus in the UK, heavy precautions were taken in regard to passengers coming to Bangladesh from there.
From the end of December, the government decided upon institutional quarantine for passengers coming from the UK, the report added.
However, although many countries suspended flights to and from the UK as a precautionary measure after the emergence of the new variant, Bangladesh did not impose any such restrictions.
Meanwhile, another new strain of coronavirus was detected in Bangladesh in the first week of November.
The Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) tested 17 new genome sequences and found new strains of coronavirus in five.
BCSIR Chief Scientific Officer Selim Khan told the BBC at the time that the new strain identified in the UK had many similarities with the one found in Bangladesh.
BCSIR is conducting further research in this regard. Experts say that the new UK variant is 70% more infectious than the previous strain.
Coronavirus infection has recently increased in Bangladesh.
The number of newly identified patients in Bangladesh on Tuesday was more than nine hundred.
According to the latest data from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on March 9, 912 people in the country tested positive for Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, the highest in nearly two months.
So far, the test-positivity rate of Covid-19 patients in Bangladesh stands at 13.2%.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh launched its coronavirus vaccination program on February 8 and the drive is currently ongoing in thousands of hospitals across Bangladesh.