First case of Brazil coronavirus variant found in the US

The first case of the highly transmissible Brazil coronavirus variant has been found in the US. Health officials in Minnesota  have confirmed that they have identified a person with the P.1 variant of coronavirus.

The individual is a resident of the Twin Cities metro area “with recent travel history to Brazil”, and was tested on 9 January after feeling sick in the first week of the year.

Officials say that the the variant was detected through genomic sequencing of random blood samples.

The Brazil variant of the virus has drawn widespread attention, along with the mutations from the United Kingdom and South Africa.

The variant was first detected in four people who had travelled from Brazil’s Amazonas state to Tokyo earlier this month, and is the latest mutated form of the coronavirus to have emerged during the pandemic.

Japanese scientists are studying the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines against the variant, which shares similarities with the highly infectious variants identified in Britain and South Africa that have driven a huge surge in cases across the two nations

“This isn’t surprising. It’s a very difficult development, but at the same time not unexpected,” said Michael T Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Mr Osterholm is also an adviser to  the president’s coronavirus response team.

Indian police hastily photoshop face masks on picture of officer and arrested man

A police department in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh has provoked a mixture of amusement and alarm for digitally adding face masks onto a photograph showing a man’s arrest.

The Gorakhpur police had tweeted out the original image on Sunday, in which neither the police officer making the arrest nor the accused was wearing a face mask, drawing flak from social media users for the violation of coronavirus protocols.

Like many Indian states, Uttar Pradesh passed an order in April making it mandatory for people to wear masks at all times outside of their own home.

While the initial criticism prompted the district police to delete the picture, they did not stop there. Shortly afterwards, the image was reposted to the police profile – this time with masks fairly obviously photoshopped onto the faces of both the officer and the accused.

The morphed image did not go unnoticed by Twitter users,  who were quick to take a dig at the police, not least for the quality of photoshop job.

“Nobody promotes Digital India like @gorakhpurpolice,” wrote one user.

“@gorakhpurpolice wow. Love the way,” posted another user.

The police later deleted the post containing the second image as well.

“It was a genuine mistake from the side of the constable, who tried to correct his mistake of not wearing a mask, but did not know that he was making it worse,» Jogendra Kumar, a senior police officer of Gorakhpur told the Indian Express.

“After coming to know about the incident I even called the concerned constable and questioned him. He said it was a genuine mistake and started crying. He accepted that he made a mistake. However, I asked an Additional SP-level official to investigate the matter. Action will be taken as required.”

India has so far reported more than 10 million coronavirus cases, second only to the US. With over 151,000 deaths due to the infection, the country will begin its inoculation drive on 16 January, thereby aiming to protect its 1.3 billion people from Covid-19.

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