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Six passengers from UK test positive for new Covid variant, health ministry says

The six patients have been kept in single room isolation and their close contacts have also been put under quarantine.

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New Delhi: Six passengers who recently returned to India from the UK have tested positive for the new coronavirus variant, the Health Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

“A total of 6 samples of 6 UK returnee persons have been found to be positive with the new UK variant genome. 3 in NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences), Bengaluru, 2 in CCMB (Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology), Hyderabad and 1 in NIV (National Institute of Virology), Pune,” the statement said.

The six patients are currently being kept in single room isolation in “designated health care facilities by respective state governments” and their close contacts have also been put under quarantine.

“The situation is under careful watch and regular advice is being provided to the states for enhanced surveillance, containment, testing & dispatch of samples to INSACOG labs,” the ministry said.

Measures against new variant

Last week, the Ministry of Civil Aviation suspended flights from the UK and increased surveillance at airports. Between 25 November and 23 December, 33,000 passengers had arrived in airports across the country from the UK, according to the health ministry’s statement.

In accordance with the government’s surveillance and containment strategy that was proposed amid concerns over the transmission of the new variant, “all these passengers are being tracked and subjected by states and union territories to RT-PCR tests”.

The 114 samples that had tested positive, so far, had been sent to 10 INSACOG labs, identified to be a part of the genomics sequencing consortium set up under the leadership of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

These included labs under the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), NCDC, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).

Meanwhile, during a meeting held on 26 December, the National Task Force decided that there is no need to change the existing treatment guidelines.

“This mutation is not affecting the severity of disease as we understand today… the case fatality rate is [also] not affected by this mutation, hospitalisation is not affected by this mutation, the seriousness of this disease is not affected by this mutation,” V.K. Paul, Niti Aayog Member (Health) had said in a press briefing last week.

Also read: What is the new coronavirus strain in UK and will vaccines work on it?


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