Jordan detects three cases of Indian COVID-19 variant

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Jordan has detected three cases of the Indian COVID-19 variant in people who had not travelled, the health minister told state-owned Al Mamlaka TV.

"Two cases were recorded in Amman and one in Zarqa in people who did not travel," Minister Firas Al-Hawari told Al Mamlaka TV, adding that it meant the mutated cases did not necessarily emerge from outside, but was a "result of specific reproduction".

Jordan recorded 704 cases of COVID-19 with 35 deaths on Saturday, bringing the total cases detected in the kingdom to 712,077 with 8,871 deaths, according to the health ministry.

It comes as Malaysia detected its first case of a highly infectious coronavirus variant, days after imposing a ban on flights from India.

The variant, named B.1.617, was detected in an Indian national screened at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Health Minister Adham Baba said on Sunday.

The World Health Organisation has described it as a "variant of interest", suggesting it may have mutations that would make the virus more transmissible, cause more severe disease or evade vaccine immunity.

"We advise the public to remain calm... All public health efforts will continue in order to break the chain of infection and ensure public safety," Adham said.

He did not say when the variant was detected.

Malaysia, which is facing a surge in COVID-19 cases, on Wednesday banned flights to and from India and prohibited travellers from any Indian destination from entering the country to prevent the spread of the new variant.

India is battling a devastating second wave of the coronavirus that has overwhelmed hospitals, morgues and crematoriums.

Malaysia in February launched a nationwide COVID-19 vaccination programme, aiming to inoculate 80 per cent of its 32 million people within a year.

The Southeast Asian country reported 3,418 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing its total number of infections to 415,012 cases, including more than 1,500 deaths.

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