KATHMANDU: Nepal on Thursday rejected a UK tabloid report claiming the emergence of a "Nepal variant" of coronavirus, categorically denying its existence in the country and urging all not to spread such disinformation.
UK tabloid Daily Mail on Wednesday published a story, saying a coronavirus variant that is being linked to Nepal has been found in more than 20 people in the UK and is a mutated version of the strain identified in India.
Experts have alerted ministers to the new virus which has apparently also spread to several European countries, the tabloid said in a report.
"The report in some international media regarding the detection of the Nepal variant of coronavirus is not true," Dr. Krishna Prasad Poudyal, spokesperson of the Ministry of Health and Population told PTI.
There are only three variants of coronavirus, namely Alpha, Delta and Kappa found in Nepal so far, Poudyal said.
The World Health Organisation too in a tweet on Thursday said it is not aware of any such variant.
"WHO is not aware of any new variant of SARS-CoV-2 being detected in Nepal. The 3 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)," the world health body said.
Reacting to the development, Nepal's Ministry of Health and Population issued a press release categorically denying the existence of any such variant in Nepal, The Himalayan Times report said.
"Among the many variants of concerns as declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Alfa and Delta are the only known active strains in Nepal," the ministry said.
"No other variant has been known to be active in the country," it said.
The ministry also urged all not to spread such disinformation without acquiring adequate information and verification from relevant agencies.
The news gained widespread attention in Nepal after the BBC posted a link of the news on its Twitter handle and the flow of responses to the tweet got "Nepal Variant" trending on the microblogging site throughout the day, the report said.
According to the Daily Mail, Nepal is currently on the UK Government's 'red list' for travel, used for countries with high infection rates, troubling variants and which lack the capacity to spot new mutant strains.
Last month, India objected to the B.1.617 mutant of the novel coronavirus being termed an "Indian Variant" in media reports with the Union Health Ministry pointing out that the WHO has not used the word "Indian" for this strain in its document.
Nepal's Health Ministry on Thursday confirmed 6,828 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total tally to 576,936.
Meanwhile, 5,904 patients have been discharged after recovering from the disease in the past 24 hours.
With this, 81 per cent (467,467 people) of the total infections have recovered from the disease. The total number of deaths in the country reached 7,630 after 75 people died of the disease. The ministry said there are currently 101,839 corona active patients undergoing treatment across Nepal.