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    New Covid-19 variant found in 6 UK returnees

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    New Covid-19 variant found in 6 UK returnees
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    For representational purpose, (File photo)

    New Delhi: The samples of six UK returnees in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune have been found to be positive with the new variant genome, according to the Centre.

    They have been kept in a single-room-isolation in designated healthcare facilities, according to a report.

    The confirmation comes weeks after the British government has identified a strain of the virus potentially up to 70 per cent more transmissible.

    UK's new situation made Indian authorities to halt all flights to and from the UK till December 31. Alongside, the guidelines were issued for more stringent checks at airports.

    About 33,000 passengers arrived from UK at several Indian airports from November 25 to December 23 midnight.

    They were all tracked and subjected by the states and UTs to the RT-PCR tests. So far only 114 have been found positive. These positive samples were then sent to 10 labs.

    "A total of six samples of six UK returnee persons have been found to be positive with the new UK variant genome. Three in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, two in CCMB, Hyderabad and one in NIV, Pune. All these persons have been kept in single room isolation in designated Healthcare facilities by the respective state governments. Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine," the health ministry said.

    Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on. The situation is under careful watch and the states are advised to enhance surveillance, containment, testing and dispatch of samples to the INSACOG labs, the ministry added.

    The new UK Variant has already been reported by Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.

    In India testing of all UK returnee air passengers through RT-PCR test was made mandatory. The samples of all UK returnees found positive in RT-PCR test to be genome sequenced by a consortium of ten government labs.

    The strategy also included a meeting of the National Task Force (NTF) on Covid-19 on December 26 to consider and recommend Testing, Treatment, Surveillance and Containment Strategy. Standard Operating Protocol for states and UTs to tackle the mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2 were also issued on December 22.

    Over the last few weeks, the UK has faced a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases in South East England, leading to enhanced epidemiological and virological investigations.

    Analysis of viral genome sequence data identified that a large proportion of cases belonged to a new single phylogenetic cluster.

    The new variant has multiple spike protein mutations as well as mutations in the other genomic regions.

    Analysis in the UK finds this variant significantly more transmissible than previously variants, with an estimated potential to increase the reproductive number (R) by 0.4 or greater with an estimated increased transmissibility of up to 70 per cent.

    IANS report with edits

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    TAGS:Covid 19 updates 
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