Fourteen people, who have returned to India from the United Kingdom (UK), have tested positive for the new UK variant genome of SARS-CoV-2 on Wednesday.
A total of 20 people have been found positive for the new virus strain, the Union Health Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
The tally includes six people who were found positive for the new virus strain on Tuesday.
The ministry said the mutated UK strain was detected in eight samples at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), one at the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani (near Kolkata) and one at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune.
While seven patients have been confirmed at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences Hospital (NIMHANS) Bengaluru, two at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad and one has been detected at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi.
On Tuesday, six UK returnees were found to be positive for the new UK variant genome.
The ministry said all these people have been kept in single room isolation at designated health care facilities by respective state governments and their close contacts have also been put under quarantine.
“Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on.”
“The situation is under careful watch and regular advice is being provided to the states for enhanced surveillance, containment, testing and dispatch of samples to INSACOG labs,” the ministry had said.
The presence of the new UK Variant has already been reported by Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.
The ministry said from November 25-December 23 midnight, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK.
All these passengers are being tracked and subjected to RT-PCR tests by states and Union territories.
The Centre took cognizance of the reports of virus reported from the UK and put in place a proactive and preventive strategy to detect and contain the mutant variant, it said.
This strategy includes temporary suspension of all flights coming from the UK with effect from the midnight of December 23-31 and mandatory testing of all UK-returned air passengers through RT-PCR test.
The samples of all UK returnees found positive in RT-PCR test will be genome sequenced by a consortium of 10 government labs i.e. INSACOG.
Also, a meeting of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 was held on December 26 to consider and recommend testing, treatment, surveillance and containment strategy.
Besides, standard operating protocol for states and UTs to tackle the mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2 was issued on December 22.