Covid in Sri Lanka: The transmissibility of the new sub-lineage is yet to be determined. (File) (Colombo:
Sri Lanka on Friday detected a new sub-lineage of the Delta variant of COVID-19, scientifically named B.1.617.2. AY 104, making it the third mutation of the coronavirus to have originated in the island nation.
The SARS-CoV-2 Delta (B.1.617.2) variant is highly transmissible and was behind the rapid uptick in cases across the world, even in populations with high vaccination rates.
However, the transmissibility of sub-lineage "AY 104" is yet to be determined. Officials said the samples of the sub-lineage have been sent to laboratories in Hong Kong for further analysis.
The "AY 104" sub-lineage was detected by the researchers at University of Sri Jayewardenepura.
The government varsity's Director, Molecular and Cell Biology Department, Dr Chandima Jeewadara said the new mutation takes the number of variants originating in the country to three.
"The first one was B.411, which is a lineage of the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 virus, the second was B.1.617.2. AY 28 and this is the third one (B.1.617.2. AY 104)," Jeewadara said.
He said it was significant that the new variant had been detected in North, North-Central and Southern provinces.
The other indigenous COVID-19 strains were detected in Western Province (capital Colombo).
He said the discovery was made after tests were conducted on random samples, of which 288 samples were confirmed for "AY 104" variant while 479 tested positive for "AY 28" variant.
"It shows us that the virus is mutating in different ways and is spreading differently in each area," Jeewadara said.
He said further details would be made available after the reports were released by the laboratories in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, health authorities have warned of fresh COVID-19 clusters forming in the North-Central and Southern provinces.
"This has been caused by the failure to adhere to health guidelines. Functions had been held without following health requirements," said Deputy Director General of Health Services Dr Hemantha Herath.
Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said over 75 per cent of the population over 16 years of age and 61.8 per cent of the total population have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
"The booster shot is being administered to those over 60 years," said Rambukwella.
Over 160,000 Sri Lankans over 60 years have received the Pfizer-BioNTech jab as a third or booster dose as of Friday. Rambukwella made an appeal against vaccine hesitancy in some parts of the country.
The coronavirus has claimed 14,072 lives, along with 554,459 confirmed cases, in the country, the health ministry had said in an update on Thursday.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)