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India reports first case of COVID variant XE in Mumbai

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Guwahati: India’s first case of coronavirus variant XE was reported in Mumbai today, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has said in a media release. One case of the Kappa variant has also been detected. The patients with the new variants of the virus don’t have any severe symptoms so far. 

The new mutant may be more transmissible than any strain of COVID-19, World Health Organisation had said last week.

The Mumbai patient is a 50-year-old costume designer who returned from South Africa in February. She tested positive for Covid on March 2, the BMC said in its release.

The new strain was detected in the UK at the start of the new year. Britain’s health agency said on April 3 that XE was first detected on January 19 and 637 cases of the new variant have been reported in the country so far.

XE is a “recombinant” which is a mutation of BA’1 and BA.2 Omicron strains. Recombinant mutations emerge when a patient is infected by multiple variants of Covid. The variants mix up their genetic material during replication and form a new mutation, UK experts said in a paper published in British Medical Journal.

The World Health Organisation had said that the new mutation XE appears to be 10 per cent more transmissible than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron.

“Early-day estimates indicate a community growth rate advantage of 10 percent as compared to BA.2, however, this finding requires further confirmation,” the global health body had added.

Out of the 230 Mumbai patients whose samples were sent for genome sequencing, 228 are positive for Omicron, one Kappa and one XE. 21 of the total 230 patients had to be hospitalised, though none of them needed oxygen or intensive care. 12 of those hospitalised were unvaccinated and nine had taken both doses. 

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