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Is there a Nepal COVID-19 variant?

Recent reports suggest there’s a COVID-19 variant in Nepal. But officials denied its existence

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A Nepalese health worker collects a nasal swab to test for COVID-19.

In this March 19, 2021, file photo, a Nepalese health worker collects a nasal swab sample of Bahraini prince Mohamed Hamad Mohamed al-Khalifa to test for COVID-19 before he heads for an expedition to Mount Everest in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Niranjan Shrestha, Associated Press

A new report suggests there’s a COVID-19 variant in the country of Nepal, but health officials said they’re not aware of such a mutation.

Is there a Nepal variant?

The Daily Mail — a U.K. tabloid — reported that the U.K. government has feared an emerging Nepal variant of the coronavirus that could make vacation travel dangerous for people.

  • According to The Daily Mail, U.K. scientists found 20 British people had the Nepal COVID-19 variant, calling it “an evolved version of the Indian strain.”
  • The Daily Mail said U.K. health officials will announce its arrival to the U.K. on June 3.

What did the World Health Organization say?

The World Health Organization’s Nepal Twitter account said in a statement that there is no indication of a Nepal variant.

  • “WHO is not aware of any new variant of SARS-CoV-2 being detected in Nepal,” the statement said. “The confirmed variants in circulation are: Alpha (B.1.1.7), Delta (B.1.617.2) and Kappa (B.1.617.1). The predominant variant currently in circulation in Nepal is Delta (B.1.617.2).”

New names for COVID-19 variants

The World Health Organization announced a new naming system for COVID-19 variants on June 1, using the Greek alphabet for the names to help people identify them easier, according to Deseret News.

Here’s a breakdown of the new names:

  • Variant B.1.1.7 — which was first identified in Kent, the United Kingdom — is now called Alpha.
  • Variant B.1.351 — which was first identified in South Africa — is now called Beta.
  • Variant P.1 — which was first found in Brazil — is now called Gamma.
  • Variant B.1.617.2 — which was first discovered in India — is now called Delta.