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Indian scientists warn of coronavirus ignored amid wave: report

A warning from a forum of scientists about a new version of COVID-19, spreading across India, was ignored amid a large number of cases, some of the scientists said Reuters.

The forum, called the Indian Genetic Consortium SARS-CoV-2 (INSACOG), warned health officials in early March of a more contagious variant of the virus called B. 771, and that cases could increase again.

Ajay Parida, a member of ISACOG, told Reuters that the commission had known about the option since February.

ISACOG was set up in late December by a senior official who reports directly to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Reuters reports.

Despite the warning, the government did not seek major restrictions to stop the spread, but instead allowed large crowds to attend religious festivals and political rallies.

The Indian government has published official statement on March 24 warning of the option. It says that samples from the state of Maharashtra have found an increase in the number of two specific mutations.

However, Reuters noted that the statement omitted that the mutations caused “great concern”, a phrase included in the original draft of the statement.

It was not clear whether Modi had ever been informed of INSACOG’s findings or had seen a draft of the communication. His office did not return Reuters’ requests for comment.

India is currently battling an increase in coronavirus infections. The nation set a grim record of 400,000 new coronavirus infections on Saturday after reaching 300,000 in ten consecutive days.

Against the background of the wave India opened vaccinations for all adults on Saturday.

India became the fourth country to exceed 200,000 cumulative coronavirus deaths on Thursday. The only other countries that have reached the dark stage are Mexico, Brazil and the United States.

The United States has shipped supplies to India, including supplies for testing and vaccination, as well as oxygen supplies. It will ban most trips from India in early May 4.

Meanwhile, an outbreak of India has spread across the border to Nepal, where hospitals are reported depletion of beds.

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