UK Covid-19 variant reaches India, govt on guard: All you need to know
Here are the key developments prompted by the tracing of UK variant in India.
India on Tuesday recorded the first six cases of the UK variant of coronavirus among travellers who returned from Britain, prompting the government to enforce stricter precautions and speed up contact tracing for co-passengers. The new UK variant genome of SARS-CoV-2 – B.1.1.7 – was detected in three samples in the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Hospital (NIMHANS) Bengaluru, two in the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad and one in the National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune, the health ministry said.
The presence of this new UK variant has already been reported by Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore, so far.
Here are the key developments prompted by the tracing of UK variant in India:
Govt takes cognizance of the reports of virus
All infected 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, the ministry said. “Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on,” the Union health ministry said. 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 added.
India may extend ban on flights from UK
India is likely to extend the ban on flights from Britain in a bid to contain the spread of a new strain of coronavirus, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Tuesday. “I foresee a slight extension of the temporary suspension. I don’t expect that extension to be a long or indefinite extension. In the next day or two, we will find out if any additional steps need to be taken, or when we can start easing the current temporary suspension,” Puri said.
Genome sequencing for all Covid-19 positive flyers who arrived in India from Dec 9 to 22
All international passengers who arrived in India from December 9 to 22 and tested positive for Covid-19 will be subjected to genome sequencing as part of the Centre’s strategy to detect the mutated coronavirus strain that has emerged in the United Kingdom recently. Others will be followed up by the state and district surveillance officers and will be tested as per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines, even if asymptomatic, between fifth and 10th day of arrival, according to the Union health ministry’s guidance document on genomic sequencing.
Govt to increase number of genome sequencing for Covid-19
The government will increase the number of genome sequencing for Covid-19 in view of the new coronavirus strain that was first detected in the United Kingdom, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Tuesday. “An important development is the establishment of INSACOG which is a consortium of 10 government labs to do genome sequencing of the Sars (Covid-19) virus or any variant of that virus. These labs belong to ICMR, BioTech India, CSIR and health ministry,” Bhushan said.
Samples of 15 who came to Delhi from UK sent to check new strain of virus
Test samples of 15 people who recently arrived in Delhi from the UK and tested positive for Covid-19 have been sent for genome sequencing to check if they have contracted the new variant of the virus, PTI reported on Tuesday. The results are expected in the next three-four days, it said. The Delhi government had earlier said that people who had arrived in the Capital recently from the UK are being traced and tested, and a separate institutional quarantine facility has been set up at the LNJP Hospital for positive cases.
Covaxin can work against mutated coronavirus: Bharat Biotech
Covaxin, a vaccine candidate being developed by Bharat Biotech for Covid-19, can offer protection against mutations of coronavirus, Chairman and Managing Director of the city-based vaccine maker Krishna Ella said on Tuesday. He also said the company has approached regulatory authorities seeking approval for an emergency license to use the vaccine, developed in collaboration with ICMR and the National Institute of Virology and now undergoing phase 3 trials.
Pilots’ association writes to Air India for details of UK virus strain
Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association has written to Air India’s director of operations, seeking information about the new Covid-19 variant. “We demand the company procure info from labs and promptly inform all pilots who have tested COVID positive and pilots who may test positive in future if they are infected with this deadlier variant of Sars-CoV-2,” the association said in its letter.