The variant of the novel coronavirus currently ravaging India is not only highly infectious, but also stealthy, scientists have found.

For instance, hospitals in New Delhi are getting cases of patients displaying typical symptoms of COVID-19 but test negative for the virus through repeated RT-PCR tests, which is considered the gold standard for COVID testing, reported Times of India.

Such patients are later diagnosed with the virus via the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) test, which involves a flexible scope being inserted into the lungs through the mouth or nose, before a measured amount of fluid is introduced and collected for examination.

Experts think this is due to the new variant of the virus attaching itself to the ACE receptors in the patients' lungs, and not colonising the nasal or throat cavity, which explains the failure to detect through swab tests.

Patients of this possibly mutated virus are also displaying symptoms different than the ones commonly documented.

These includes cases of conjunctivitis, runny nose, cold and diarrhea, as opposed to cough, and breathlessness, which are previous documented symptoms of the virus.

The mutated virus also reportedly have a shorter incubation period than the previous strains, which means that symptoms appear early.

India has officially overtaken Brazil to become the second country worst hit by the coronavirus.

The country so far has more than 13.6 million confirmed cases, and over 171,000 deaths, just after the US, which leads the list with over 31 million cases and 576,000 deaths.

Source: Times of India
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