109 cases in 16 days: How UK strain of coronavirus has progressed in India
Almost three months after it was first detected in the United Kingdom, India reported its first cases of the mutated variant of coronavirus on December 29 last year.
The health ministry had then announced that six people with a travel history to London tested positive and said that the new UK variant genome of Sars-CoV-2 - B.1.1.7 - was detected in three samples in the labs of Hyderabad, Bangalore and Pune.
Sixteen days after the first reported infection, India has already clocked more than a hundred cases of the new variant.
Within a week of reporting the first case, India's tally for the new genome of the virus crossed 50. It crossed the 100-mark in the next seven days. On Wednesday, the number stood at 102, the health ministry announced.
India's tally of the variant increases gradually at the time Britain is recording another 563 fatalities from the virus, bringing its deaths to over 81,400, one of the highest tolls in Europe.
Soaring cases are forcing UK medical chiefs to try to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed and the government to reinforce its campaign for people to abide by stay-at-home orders.
The B.1.1.7 variant genome, which is much more infectious, has prompted comprehensive contact tracing for co-travellers, family members and others of those who have travelled to the UK in the last 38 days.
From November 25 to the midnights of December 23, 2020, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK, the government said. All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by states to RT-PCR tests to detect the presence of the new variant.
The government took cognisance of the reports of the virus reported from the UK and said it has put in place a proactive and preventive strategy to detect and contain the mutant variant.
This strategy included temporary suspension of all flights coming from the UK from December 23 to January 7 and mandatory RT-PCR test for all UK-returnees.
The samples of all those found positive in the RT-PCR test will be genome sequenced by a consortium of 10 government labs.
Countries like Russia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore have also reported cases of the new variant so far.
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention states that preliminary epidemiologic indicators suggest that this variant is associated with increased transmissibility, which implies that it is more efficient and is transmitted rapidly.
Currently, there is no evidence to suggest that the variant has any impact on the severity of disease or vaccine efficacy, the CDC has stated.
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- Kerala seems to have made considerable progress in tackling the menace, statistics show.