coronavirus pandemic, PCR test

Turkey confirms first cases of mu variant of coronavirus

WHO considers a “variant of interest” the mu strain of the coronavirus, which emerged in Colombia, due to its resistance to vaccines.

Turkey has confirmed the first cases of the mu variant of the coronavirus, a strain declared “of interest” by the WHO that was first detected in Colombia last January, as announced by the Turkish Minister of Health, Fahrettin Koca, confirming that two cases of the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 have been detected in the country.

Koca made the announcement after a meeting held on Monday of the cabinet of ministers in which the state of the pandemic in Turkey was analysed; the coronavirus has caused in Turkey the death by COVID-19 to more than 52,000 people since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Currently the delta variant originated in India is the majority in the country, being responsible for 90% of new infections.

Mu was classified in August as a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization (WHO), since its existence was documented for the first time at the beginning of the year in Colombia and later in Ecuador, where it is responsible for 39% and 13 % of new infections, respectively. The WHO has also confirmed cases of sporadic outbreaks of this variant in other Latin American and European countries, although for now it only represents less than 0.1% of cases worldwide. It is believed that it could be resistant to vaccines.

In Turkey, for now the delta variant and the so-called delta plus remain dominant after having displaced the British strain, and both account for more than 90% of the new positives. Turkey is currently registering about 20,000 daily infections despite the fact that around 62% of the population has already received two doses of the vaccine. However, authorities face the problem of a lack of compliance with safety measures, and of people who continue to reject the vaccine, too.

For now, the mu variant of the coronavirus is not a cause of concern for the Turkish health authorities, who hope to achieve the long-awaited herd immunity when the proportion of vaccinated population reaches 85%, and have already started administering the third dose of the Sinovac vaccine. Yesterday also came into force the obligation for people without vaccination or with only one dose to present a negative PCR test carried out within 48 hours to be able to travel between cities on any public transport, although the minister confirmed that PCR tests will continue to be free for unvaccinated people.