The Belarusian capital of Minsk has detected its first case of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the press service of the Ministry of Health said on Wednesday.
"An analysis of the SARS-CoV-2 virus sequence, distinguished in June from samples from patients with confirmed COVID-19 cases, showed that 10 tested samples in Minsk had a set of mutations in the spike protein characteristic to the Indian variant ... Therefore, it can be stated that the Indian variant of the virus was detected in Belarus. However, the circulation of the same variant was not detected in other regions of Belarus," the Ministry of Health said on their official Telegram channel.
The first known sample of this COVID-19 variant was first detected in India in autumn last year and was registered by the GISAID data-sharing initiative on October 7, 2020.
"The Indian variant can spread more effectively compared to other variants of the virus, which were circulating at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic," the Belarusian ministry said, adding that that could be due to the mutations in the spike protein of the virus which helps it "better attach to the receptor of cells."
No evidence is available into the fact that the virus may be causing more severe illnesses, however, experts still urge citizens to get the COVID-19 vaccination.
It is also noted that the Delta variant of the virus did not only become widespread in India but also in other European countries. The high wave of illnesses of COVID-19 in Russia this June was also linked to this strain of the virus.
In April, the World Health Organisation said that it believed the Delta strain of the virus to be more contagious.
Active COVID-19 cases in Belarus have been decreasing since late December with the number standing at 4,248 on June 22. Only 3.9 pc of the country's population are fully vaccinated.