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Canadian officials test positive for COVID-19 in India, GAC says

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Global Affairs Canada (GAC) says Canadian employees and other locally engaged staff have tested positive for COVID-19 in India.

In a statement emailed to Global News, a spokesperson for GAC said the employees that tested positive for the virus are “receiving appropriate medical attention, if required.”

The agency was unable to confirm how many employees have tested positive for COVID-19, saying only that they “do not have indication that any of our cases resulted from transmission within the mission staff/community” because the missions have adopted safety measures.

“Many of these employees have not been physically in our offices,” the agency said.

Read more: ‘Perfect storm’: How did India’s COVID-19 crisis get so bad?

GAC said it takes the “health, safety and security” of its employees “very seriously.”

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All employees that may have been exposed are “taking the appropriate health measures and have been notified to stay at home, not return to the workplace for at least 14 days, and to observe self-isolation guidelines,” the email said.

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The agency said Canada’s missions in India “remain open,” and “continue to deliver consular support to Canadians abroad throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

GAC said it is “monitoring the situation in India very closely and have a number of contingency measures in place.”

Canada’s consulate is located in New Dehli, which is currently the epicentre of the coronavirus crisis in India.

Read more: ‘Some patients die while waiting’: Doctors in India plead for international help

On Wednesday, the country’s official COVID-19 death toll climbed past 200,000 and, in a new global record, Indian authorities logged 362,757 infections in a 24-hour period, bringing the total number of cases to more than 17.9 million.

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The latest tally from Johns Hopkins University said the virus has claimed 201,187 lives in India to date.

The devastating second wave in India has been driven mostly by the new, more transmissible B.1.617 variant.

Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, World Health Organization spokesperson Tarik Jašarević said mass gatherings, more contagious variants and low vaccination rates, have contributed to the “perfect storm” that has caused the devastating surge of COVID-19 in India.

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To date, India has administered more than 144 million COVID-19 vaccine doses. That means so far, 1.74 per cent of its total population has been fully vaccinated against the disease.

Last week, the Canadian federal government announced flights from India would be temporarily banned in a bid to stem the spread of the virus. It has also donated $10 million in aid to the country.

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-With a file from Global News’ Rachael D’Amore

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