India has reported six cases of the new coronavirus strain. As per a government statement, a total of 6 UK returnees have been found to be positive with the new UK variant genome. Three samples in NIMHANS of Bengaluru, 2 in CCMB, Hyderabad and 1 in NIV, Pune tested positive for the new variant of coronavirus.
"All these persons have been kept in single room isolation in designated Health Care facilities by respective state governments. Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine. Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others," the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said, adding that genome sequencing on other specimens is going on.
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The Ministry further said that 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".
As per the statement, from November 25 to December 23, about 33,000 passengers arrived in India from the UK. Of these, 114 tested positive for COVID-19.
"These positive samples have been sent to 10 INSACOG labs (NIBMG Kolkata, ILS Bhubaneswar, NIV Pune, CCS Pune, CCMB Hyderabad, CDFD Hyderabad, InSTEM Bengaluru, NIMHANS Bengaluru, IGIB Delhi, NCDC Delhi) for genome sequencing," Health Ministry added.
Explained: Are new coronavirus strains cause for concern?
The new UK Variant has already been reported by Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore, so far.
Health experts in the UK and US have said that the UK strain seems to infect more easily than others, but there is no evidence yet it is more deadly. The strain is also concerning because it has so many mutations — nearly two dozen — and some are on the spiky protein that the virus uses to attach to and infect cells. That spike is what current vaccines target.Click here for Moneycontrol's full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak