THE Thai Public Health Ministry today (April 25) denied Indian millionaires are fleeing their country where there is a massive Covid-19 spike to Thailand on chartered flights but underscored that regular flights cannot be halted nor can any action be taken to halt the import of Indian equipment and medical supplies that Thailand needs, Siam Rath newspaper said.
Mr. Opas Karnkawinpong, the director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said it was concern over the spread of the new coronavirus variant that has emerged in India spreading to Thailand that sparked these rumours but they are not true.
There are Thai people in India who have requested to return home in May but the ministry has contacted the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) and the Foreign Ministry to delay issuing a passport to those who need one as much as possible.
The ministry has also proposed that the quarantine period be temporarily extended from 10 to 14 days for all categories of arrivals. Moreover state quarantine will be strictly enforced.
Meanwhile the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said that there is only one Indian airline flight a week arriving in Thailand while also confirming that no chartered flights had asked for permission to fly from India here.
Regarding repatriation flights to bring Thais back home in May, according to the schedule one person is returning on May 1, 70 on May 8, 60 on May 15 while none had registered to do so on May 22.
CAAT also said that the Foreign Ministry has slowed down entry of all Indians to Thailand and those who do so have to be screened, that is submit health papers before flying, and be quarantined to ensure that the infection does not spread to Thailand.
India has registered a new world record for daily coronavirus infections for the fourth day in a row today, placing more strain on its crisis-hit hospitals, BBC said
It recorded a further 349,691 cases today, bringing the total to almost 17 million since the pandemic began.
Meanwhile a new variant of the virus causing Covid-19 has been detected in West Bengal, India Today said.
The ‘triple mutant variant’ (also being referred to as the ‘Bengal strain’ of Covid-19) is reportedly more infectious than other strains.
Reports suggest that while this variant is predominantly circulating in West Bengal, it has also been detected in samples from Delhi and Maharashtra.
Experts say at present there is no conclusive evidence to comment on the impact that this variant can have on vaccines but the presence of E484K mutation in it is a cause for concern.
E484K is a major immune escape variant and is also found in a number of emerging lineages across the world. Immune escape variants are those mutations that help the variant to evade the immune system and possibly result in compromising vaccine efficacy.
What is the ‘triple mutant variant’?
As the name suggests, a ‘triple mutant variant’ is formed when three mutations of a virus combine to form a new variant. In this case, the three mutations are:
A deletion and two changes in spike protein
Deletion of H146 and Y145
Mutation in E484K and D614G in spike protein
The ‘triple mutant variant’ is the second lineage of SARS-CoV-2 virus to be identified in India. It is being called ‘B.1.618’, and is mostly circulating in West Bengal.
Earlier, a ‘double mutant variant’ of the virus was detected in India. It was officially named as ‘B.1.617’.
Top: A family member of a Covid-19 patient carries an oxygen cylinder for refilling in New Delhi as demand for the gas rises due to spike in coronovirus cases. Photo: PTI and published by Outlookindia.com
Home Page: Indians wait to be vaccinated for Covid-19 infection in Mumbai as coronavirus cases surge in record numbers across the country. Photo: PTI /Kunal Patil and published by Outlookindia.com