In a first, India successfully isolates, cultures UK-variant of Sars-CoV-2: ICMR
In a first, India has successfully isolated and cultured the UK-variant of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said in a tweet on Saturday.
“UK-variant of the virus, with all signature changes, is now successfully isolated and cultured at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) from the clinical specimens collected from UK-returnees,” the country’s apex medical body wrote on Twitter.
It said that Sars-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19, was being tracked through the countrywide network of ICMR-laboratories since early days of the epidemic in India. No country has yet reported successful isolation and culture of the UK variant, according to ICMR. Vero cell lines were used by the scientists of ICMR-NIV to culture the UK-variant of the virus, it added.
India has reported 29 cases of the new coronavirus variant, that is spreading rapidly around Britain and other countries, within five days of tracing its first such infection. The new United Kingdom variant genome of Sars-CoV-2 – B.1.1.7, 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 December 23, 2020, midnight, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK. All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by states to RT-PCR tests to detect Covid-19.
Apart from India, the presence of the new strain of the mutant virus has already been reported by Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.
As a precautionary measure, the aviation ministry has restricted the operations of flights between India and the UK. Flights from India to the UK can start on January 6, while operations from the UK to India will begin on January 8. The schedule is valid till January 23, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri clarified on Saturday.
The ministry has also issued a set of guidelines for travelling between the two nations. All passengers from the UK will have to submit self-declaration form on the online portal of Delhi Airport(www.newdelhiairport.in) at least 72 hours before the scheduled travel. They need to carry their negative report of the RT-PCR test, which should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey.
Passengers will have to undergo RT-PCR tests again upon arrival at their own cost. If tested positive upon arrival, passengers will have to be quarantined accordingly, the government has said.