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18 May, 2021 17:30

Nearly 200 people in two German tower blocks quarantined after confirmed local case of Indian Covid-19 strain

Nearly 200 people in two German tower blocks quarantined after confirmed local case of Indian Covid-19 strain

Residents in a pair of tower blocks in western Germany have been confined to their rooms after one woman who lives there tested positive for the Indian variant of Covid-19, local health officials have said.

Since Sunday, some 189 people have been ordered to quarantine at their residences in Velbert, near Dusseldorf, head of the local health ministry Marcus Kowalczyk told news agency DPA on Tuesday.

So far 19 people have tested positive for Covid-19 from among four families in the two towers, Kowalczyk said.

All residents were tested for the virus on Sunday and Monday, with more results expected in the next 24 hours.

However, there has only been one case of the variant, known as B.1.617, found among the blocks' residents.

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The strain was first detected in India in October and experts believe it may be up to 50% more transmissible than the so-called UK variant.

Kowalczyk did not specify how long residents would have to remain in quarantine.

The Red Cross and other organizations are providing food and other essential supplies to those isolating in the tower blocks.

The proportion of cases of the Indian variant in Germany has slowly been rising in recent weeks, the country's Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said last week.

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The World Health Organization has described the Indian strain as being of "global concern."

B.1.617 makes up 2% of all Covid-19 cases in Germany, with 90 cases of the strain reported in total, according to an RKI report published on May 12.

Germany has registered more than 86,000 Covid-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic and more than 3.6 million cases, RKI data shows.

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