Bengaluru: Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar on Saturday said that 14 of the 2,500 passengers who returned from the UK since November 25 had tested coronavirus positive. According to the minister their samples has been sent for genome sequencing tests to find if anyone was infected with a mutant strain.
Sudhakar told reporters that the Health Department had so far conducted tests on 1,638 of the 2,500 passengers till December 22.
"Of the 1,638, 14 were positive. Their samples have been sent to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (Nimhans) for genome sequencing test. Nimhans is one of the 10 institutes selected by the Health Ministry to conduct these tests. Along with Nimhans, the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) at Bengaluru can also carry out the tests," he explained.
Sudhakar said that genome sequencing was a time consuming process of at least three to four days. "The new strain of the virus found in the UK has 14 mutations; so genome sequencing tests are taking some time," he said.
According to the Minister, the state will not have direct access to these reports. "The Nimhans or NCBS is supposed to send the reports to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) which in turn will disclose these to the respective states."
He said that the union government has barred the state government from sharing any details about the new variants of coronavirus.
The Minister clarified that the state government has neither directed nor helped any VIP to secure 'Covaxin' at this stage. "Covaxin is still in the trial stage. Inaugurating the third round of trials of this vaccine, I had appealed to frontline health workers to get shots for their own safety," he said.
On Friday, on the topic of the withdrawal of the night curfew, the minister had stated that the closure of economic activities would cause loss to the government too. He also said that it was not the government's job to remind the citizens to follow guidelines and remain safe.
The Karnataka government had withdrawn night curfew just one day after announcing it. The curfew was announced on Wednesday to prevent the spread of the new strain of COVID-19.
The curfew had been imposed in accordance with the suggestion of the Technical Advisory Committee. The curfew was reportedly withdrawn due to 'public feedback'.
The statement to the public added that experts were consulted before the decision was made. It also stressed that the public should take measures to ensure their personal safety, including wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding travel etc.
The issue has seen much back and forth in the past four days. While on Tuesday, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa who stated that there was no necessity for a curfew, on Wednesday announced a night curfew. The curfew which was set from 10pm to 6am, was quickly amended to from 11pm to 5am. Finally, on Thursday the night curfew was withdrawn altogether.
(with inputs from Mafazah Sharafudheen)