Argentina confirms first cases of COVID-19 variants from India, South Africa

People wearing face masks wait in line to be tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Colon Theatre, in Buenos Aires, Argentina April 13, 2021. REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Argentina’s Health Ministry on Monday confirmed its first cases of the more contagious COVID-19 variants discovered in India and South Africa in three travelers returning to the South American country from Europe.

The Indian variant of the coronavirus was detected in two minors who returned from Paris, while the South African variant was found in a 58-year-old passenger returning from Spain, the ministry said in a statement.

The three passengers arrived at Buenos Aires’ international airport on April 24 and were quarantined in a hotel.

“Since we began surveillance of genomic sequencing in travelers, we have identified ‘priority’ variants in almost 50% of positive cases,” Analia Rearte, the ministry’s head of epidemiology and strategic information, said in the statement.

Argentina, which is slowly carrying out a vaccination campaign, established new restrictions on circulation of people in the country and certain activities in recent weeks due to a second wave of coronavirus infections.

The country has registered a total of 3,147,740 cases since the pandemic began, and 67,325 deaths.

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