Denmark lineage of COVID-19 has been identified in virus samples collected from 03 persons in the community in Colombo, says Dr Chandima Jeewandara, Director of Allergy, Immunity and Cell Biology Unit of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
Sri Lanka has carried out monthly genetic sequencing of the COVID-19 virus variants since the virus first entered the country in March 2020.
Accordingly, a total of 55 samples have been subjected to genetic sequencing for the month of March 2021, Said Dr. Chandima Jeewandara.
He says that 36 of the sequenced samples belong to the Sri Lankan lineage (B1.411) variant. This variant is endemic to Sri Lanka and nearly 94 percent of the cases of this lineage found in the world have been reported from Sri Lanka.
The thirty-six B1.411 samples identified in March have been identified from the Sapugaskanda, Battaramulla, Jaffna, Mannar, Colombo, and Kegalle.
Dr. Jeewandara stated that the mutations of the Sri Lankan variant should be monitored and observed by Sri Lanka alone as the majority of the cases are reported from the island.
He added that they have identified certain mutations of the Sri Lankan variant detected in the March 2021 samples.
Meanwhile, a total of 07 infections have been of the UK variant (B 117). Six of them have been detected from the quarantine centers while the other is a person arrested while smuggling illegal goods from India.
Genetic sequencing of 02 samples obtained this month compared with the South African variant (B1.351), said Dr. Jeewandara. Both samples are persons who arrived from Qatar and currently in quarantine centers.
Another UK-endemic variant (B11.365) has been identified from a quarantine center, in a person who arrived from Kuwait.
Meanwhile, the Denmark variant (B1.428) has been identified in 03 samples identified from several places in Colombo. However, the Denmark variant has not spread severely within the community, Dr. Jewandara claimed.
The Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) has been notified of the emergence of the Denmark variant and necessary investigations will be carried out in the future, he added.
Dr. Chandima Jeewandara says that almost all coronavirus infections reported within the country are of the Sri Lankan lineage variant while infections of other variants are mainly reported from quarantine centers.
He noted that none of the foreign variants have leaked from quarantine centers into the community to create new clusters.
However, the emergence of mutations in the Sri Lankan variant cannot be prevented as mutations occur with the spread of the virus, he further said.
In order to control the mutations in the country, the spread of the virus must be halted by following health safety guidelines, Dr. Jeewandara added.