Germany on Thursday said that it had cases of a COVID-19 variant feared to be contributing to a devastating surge in India, the latest country to detect the strain.
“We have isolated cases in Germany, we will release a new report tomorrow,” Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute infectious disease agency, told reporters when asked about the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, which was first found in India.
The World Health Organization said Tuesday that the variant had been detected in “at least 17 countries”.
“Most sequences were uploaded from India, the United Kingdom, U.S. and Singapore,” the WHO said in its weekly epidemiological update on the pandemic.
India is struggling with skyrocketing new cases and deaths, and fears are rising that the variant could be contributing to the unfolding catastrophe.
The explosion in infections in India has driven a surge in global cases. The virus has now killed more than 3.1 million people worldwide.
Germany is currently grappling with a third wave of the pandemic and on Saturday tightened nationwide shutdown measures to try to contain the outbreak.
Europe’s top economy on Thursday reported nearly 25,000 new cases in the previous 24 hours and 264 more deaths, bringing the total to 82,544.