THE Indian variant of COVID-19 currently causing devastation across India has been detected in Spain for the first time, but government officials insist there is no cause for panic.
The B.1.617 strain of the coronavirus currently has its grip on the Indian continent with the country experiencing one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent years, with 400,000 daily cases and over 3,000 daily deaths.
Since the spike, the strain has gradually spread cross the globe, with cases being recorded in 21 countries according to the GISAID global database.
The UK currently has 103 confirmed cases of the Indian strain leading to travel bans being implemented and strict quarantines for Indian nationals coming from third countries.
Spain has so far remained relatively untouched by the new strain, with just eight confirmed infections since February 22nd.
The majority of the cases have been isolated to the North of Spain, with the first being recorded in the northern city of Bilbao.
Alarms were raised after a Singapore registered cargo vessel Prometheus Leader was detected to house the virus, prompting the government to quarantine the South Asian crew members on board.
Results of the testing on the crew members confirmed on Saturday that they crew were harbouring the Indian strain of the virus.
Of the 25 people on board, seven have been confirmed with the virus and have been transferred to the Vithas Hospital in the city of Pontevedra, with the remaining 18 ordered to isolate on the ship under ‘permanent medical monitoring.’
The eighth victim of the new strain is a student from Extremadura that attended a masters degree in Madrid, who upon learning of his infection was suspended from the course.
After receiving a negative PCR test he returned to Extremadura between April 19 and 20, where he explained that during the course he was in contact with an Indian student.
The course has been suspended and the students attending have been contacted and are being monitored according to a spokesman from the Community of Madrid.
Spain’s Indian variant numbers are likely to increase in coming weeks as testing is being carried out on another cargo vessel docked in Bilbao, the Stavanger Pearl.
Three sailors have tested positive for the virus along with a fourth staying in a local hotel, all of which are waiting on sequencing results to determine details of the infection.
The remaining crew have also been ordered to isolate on board until further tests are carried out.
The Ministry of Health announced on Saturday in response to the outbreak on the Prometheus Leader that Spain will impose a 10 day quarantine on anyone travelling from India, a step that will be in force for two weeks until experts understand the severity of the strain.