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Coronavirus: A variant of Indian COVID-19 detected in Belgium

Belgian authorities said Thursday reported, the Covid-19 variant creating a wave in coronavirus cases in India has been detected in Belgium in a group of Indian students who arrived from Paris.

Twenty nursing students, who arrived in Belgium in mid-April after travelling from the French capital’s Charles de Gaulle airport, have tested positive for the variant, the office of government commissioner Pedro Facon told AFP, confirming media reports.

The students are in quarantine in Aalst and Leuven in northern Belgium where they had been due to begin a training course.

Experts have suggested that they may have been victims of a “super-spreader” — either a member of their group or another passenger on the bus that brought them to Belgium from Paris.

“These students have been respecting strict isolation since their arrival. Twenty of the 43 students are as of today infected by the ‘Indian’ variant,” tweeted microbiologist Emmanuel Andre of the Catholic University of Leuven.

Another expert, Virologist Marc Van Ranst, who has been famous in Belgian coverage of the crisis, told a Flemish radio station that the group had landed in Paris on April 12. Many of the students started having virus symptoms five days later, he said.

The B.1.617 variant has already appeared subsequently, including in the United States, Australia, Israel and Singapore. Anxiety about it has led some countries, including the UK, to strike travel constraints on India.

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