20 people in India have tested positive for the new UK mutant variant of Covid-19, taking the total number of such cases in the country to 58.

People testing positive for the new strain are being quarantined in single rooms in designated health care facilities by the respective state governments.

The health authorities have also put the close contacts of such patients in isolation.

“The total number of cases infected with the new strain of the novel coronavirus first reported in the UK now stands at 58,” a report quoted the Union health ministry as saying.

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Sources in the health ministry said that comprehensive contact tracing of co-passengers, family contacts and others have been put into progress and genome sequencing on other specimens is also being carried out.

The new mutant variant strain is considered to be 70 per cent more transmissible and is spreading at a fast pace in the UK.

The new strain has also been detected in several countries including Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.

The Indian government has put into place proactive and preventive strategies to detect and contain the mutant variant from spreading in the country.

The ministry of civil aviation has suspended all flights arriving from or via the UK to India from December 23 till January 7.

Testing of all UK returnees through RT-PCR test has been made mandatory and if found positive, their samples will be genome sequenced in 10 designated government laboratories across the country.

Moreover, all international passengers who have arrived in India between December 9- 22 and tested positive for COVID-19 or reported any symptoms will have to provide their samples for genome sequencing to rule out infection by the new strain.

International passengers who tested negative or are asymptomatic will be followed up by the respective state and district surveillance officers and will be tested as per the ICMR between the fifth and 10th day of their arrival in India.

The state health departments will also conduct epidemiological surveillance of passengers who arrived in India after November 23.

The centre on December 22 issued a standard operating procedure for the states and union territories to deal with the mutant strain.

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