Ukraine registers first cases of the Delta variant

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Ukraine has registered its first two cases of the more infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus, senior security official Oleksiy Danilov was quoted as saying.

Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s security and defence council, told TSN television news service the variant was detected in a mother and her daughter who recently returned from Russia.

The Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus was first discovered in India and is considered by experts to be more contagious than other variants.

Ukraine’s health minister said earlier on Wednesday the government was considering strengthening border controls on travellers from the United Kingdom, India, Russia and Portugal in a bid to prevent the spread of the Delta variant.

Danilov said Ukraine might stop transport links with some countries hit by the new strain, but did not specify which ones.

Russia on Wednesday reported 548 coronavirus-related deaths, the most confirmed in a single day since February, amid a surge in new cases that authorities have blamed on the Delta variant.

Ukraine, which has been recording a significant decline in new infections, earlier this month significantly relaxed travel requirements, lifted many of its domestic restrictions though extended some lockdown measures until Aug. 31.

Ukraine, with a population of 41 million, has been among the European countries most affected by the pandemic, with around 2.23 million COVID-19 cases and 52,123 deaths as of June 23.

Photo: A food courier wearing protective face mask walks past a fence with graffiti in Kiev, Ukraine. EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO