DHAKA, Bangladesh

A top Bangladeshi scientific research and regulatory body on Thursday rejected media reports that a new strain of COVID-19 similar to the one in the UK was found in Bangladesh. 

Several local and international media reported early Thursday, citing a researcher at the Bangladesh Council for Science and Industrial Research (BCSIR), that the new COVID-19 strain, similar to that recently found in the UK, was detected in Bangladesh some two months ago.

“It’s an ongoing research and we will brief the media after the research comes to an end. And what comes on the media over the similarity is not our version, Md. Abdur Razzak, public relations officer of BCSIR, told Anadolu Agency.

“Research is going on and we can reach on making decisions and sharing findings only after a research is completed, we can’t make comments on half-done scientific research,” the communication official said.

“Last September, in our research, we said that the mutation rate of the novel coronavirus was relatively high in Bangladesh,” he said, adding that since then there has been no further progress with the BCSRI.

The director of the institute also echoed the communication official.

“We didn’t inform anything that was published in the media about the ‘similarity’ to that of the UK. Media completely misinterpreted what the BCSRI scientists discussed with ‘some reporters’. And it’s wrong, we didn’t conduct any research to find similarities to that the UK found recently on a new variant of COVID-19,” said Dr. Sarwar Jahan, chief scientific officer and director of BCSIR.

The BCSRI scientist quoted in the media, however, could not be contacted despite repeated cell phone attempts after the news story published went viral.

New COVID-19 variant

The new variant has several combinations of mutations, particularly in the S gene, and there are preliminary signs that the variant may be able to spread more easily among the peoples, said the World Health Organization (WHO).

Bangladeshi Health Minister Zahid Maleque, however, said on Wednesday that his country is taking all possible measures to stop the new variant from entering the country.

The minister also announced a seven-day compulsary quarantine for those passengers scheduled to come from the UK.

Some 40 countries have already brought restrictions on traveling from Britain or South Africa as precautionary action to stop any further spread of the new variant.

Bangladesh on Thursday reported 19 deaths and 1,236 COVID-19 infections, taking the total fatalities to 7,378 and infections to 506,102.

Copyright 2021 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.