Sri Lanka current Covid-19 outbreak from Denmark-Sweden SARS-Cov-2 strain

Sri Lanka’s current Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak is caused by a strain of SARS-CoV-2 found in Denmark and Sweden, researchers who have sequenced its gene have found.

A team from Sri Lanka’s Sri Jayewardenepura University that also examined viruses from earlier clusters collaborating with their counterparts in UK, have said the current strain is a one that has not been previously found in Sri Lanka, after sequencing 16 samples.

“This virus belongs to the B.1.42 lineage which is found in countries like Denmark and Sweden,” Chandima Jeewandara, a senior lecturer at Sri Lanka’s Sri Jayewardenepura University who is a member of research team told Sri Lanka’s Swarnavahini Television.

“It also has a mutation called D614G, which makes it highly transmissible.”

The mutation was present in 15 of the 16 samples, he said.

Doctors have said the patients had higher viral loads when tested than in earlier outbreaks and it was spreading faster.

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, is believed to have jumped from human to animal is late 2019, and caused an outbreak in Wuhan China. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 1, is the agent that caused the SARS outbreak around 2003.

Researchers have said that on average SARS-CoV-2 causes 5.7 infections in populations with no immunity and no mitigation attempts.

It is not clear how many the B.1.42 causes.

Sri Lanka found one Chinese national early in 2020 during the Wuhan Wave and many small clusters from index cases that came from several European countries, India and Indonesia in the second Wave in March and April.

All samples of SARS-Cov-2 probed were similar, he said.

Jeewandara said there appeared to be only one strain causing the outbreak, and it had not been found in Sri Lanka before.

The findings came as Sri Lanka’s state health system relaxed discharge criteria for recovered patients for a single negative test result from two earlier.

PCR tests have a 70 percent success rate, officials have said.

Sri Lanka has also ended institutionalized quarantine and is home quarantining person including in areas which are not locked down, as patient and contact numbers rose towards 6,000 and former quarantine facilities were converted to treatment centres.

There have been 7 confirmed deaths attributed to the current outbreak, taking total deaths to 20.

One person also died while waiting for a PCR at a hospital, who was said to have been asthmatic and another died while on the way to a quarantine centres.

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