Stock - Air India
Stock - Air India Image Credit: Shutterstock

Rome: Italy extended Sunday an entry ban for people coming from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, as a continued precaution against the more transmissible Indian variant of the novel coronavirus.

The ban, which does not apply to Italian citizens, was introduced in late April and was due to expire on Sunday. It was prolonged until June 21, a spokesman for Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said in a statement.

The B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus was first detected in India last year and has been blamed for much of a devastating Covid-19 wave that has battered South Asian nations in recent weeks.

This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the variant has officially spread to 53 territories, and has been linked to seven other territories by unofficial sources, taking the total to 60.

In an interview with AFP, WHO regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said the increased contagiousness of the new variants of the coronavirus, including the Indian one, was one of his main worries.

"We know for example that the B.1617 (Indian variant) is more transmissible than the B.117 (British variant), which already was more transmissible than the previous strain," the Belgian doctor said.