Russia records first cases of Indian COVID variant

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Russia has recorded its first cases of the variant of COVID-19 first found in India, Kommersant newspaper reported on Thursday, citing authorities in the Ulyanovsk region.

The regional branch of consumer health watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said it had recorded 16 cases of the variant among Indian students at Ulyanovsk State University, some 700 kilometres (435 miles) east of Moscow.

Dilyar Khakimov, an official at the watchdog, told Kommersant that the students had been put in self-isolation and were under medical observation.

Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova had previously said the country had not recorded any cases of the variant.

The World Health Organization said on Monday that the coronavirus variant first identified in India last year was being classified as a variant of global concern, with some preliminary studies showing that it spreads more easily

India is in deep crisis in the current wave of COVID-19 infections with around 350,000 cases and 4,000 deaths being reported daily.

Russia reported 8,380 new coronavirus cases in the space of 24 hours on Thursday, taking the national tally to 4,913,439.

The government coronavirus task force said 392 people had died, taking the national death toll to 114,723.

The federal statistics agency has kept a separate count and has said Russia recorded around 250,000 deaths related to COVID-19 between April 2020 and March 2021. 

Photo: People wearing protective face masks walk on the Red Square in Moscow, Russia. EPA-EFE/SERGEI ILNITSKY