What we know so far about B.1.617 variant affecting children

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The Singapore government has said that the new mutations of coronavirus, particularly the B.1.167 Covid variant, were affecting younger children and it would shut all schools as it prepares to close all schools from Wednesday.

Authorities in Singapore said that primary and secondary schools, as well as junior colleges, would shift to full home-based learning from Wednesday until the end of the school term on 28 May.

Singapore’s Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a press briefing that the strain, B.1.617, “appears to affect children more”.

However, there is no official confirmation at this stage on how many children have been affected by the new variant of Covid-19 in Singapore.

“Some of these mutations are much more virulent and they seem to attack the younger children,” Education Minister Chan Chun Sing was quoted by news agency AFP as saying.

“This is an area of concern for all of us,” he said, adding that none of the infected children was seriously ill.

The government is “working out the plans” to vaccinate students under the age of 16, Chan said in a Facebook post.

Singapore has confirmed 38 locally transmitted Covid-19 cases, the highest daily count in eight months. Some of the cases involved children linked to a cluster at a tuition centre.

An additional 21 local transmissions were reported earlier on Monday.

“The sharp rise in the number of community cases today requires us to significantly reduce our movements and interactions in the coming days,” Education Minister Chan Chun Sing was quoted as saying by Reuters.

In the latest round of restrictions, Singapore has limited public gatherings to two, banned restaurant dine-ins and closed gyms.

Singapore is one of the most successful countries in the world when comes to Covid management. The country has so far reported over 60,000 coronavirus cases and just 31 Covid-linked deaths.

More than one-fifth of Singapore’s population has been vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. It now plans to inoculate people below 45 years of age from the second half of May. The country has also approved the Pfizer-BioNTech for children above the age of 12 years.

India keeping an eye on situation

Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri Tuesday said the Centre is taking all precautions and keeping an eye on the situation in Singapore after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to it to cancel all flights with the city-state as a “very dangerous” coronavirus strain has been detected there.

“Kejriwal ji, all international flights have been stopped since March 2020. We have no air bubble with Singapore either,” Puri said on Twitter.

Only a few flights are being operated between the two countries under Vande Bharat Mission to bring stranded Indians back, he added.

“We are still keeping an eye on the situation. All precautions are being taken,” Puri noted.

The B.1.617 variant, which is widely considered to be one of the primary reasons behind the spike in Covid-19 cases across India during the second wave of the pandemic, has been termed as a ‘global variant of concern’ by WHO.

It has reportedly already spread to over 40 nations and several countries have put travel restrictions for passengers coming from India as a result of the spike in coronavirus cases here.

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