Against the backdrop of fresh cases of coronavirus mutant strain, India has extended temporary suspension of flights to and from the United Kingdom till January 7, 2021.
India has so far found 20 persons with the mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus, first reported in the UK in September, a health ministry statement said here this morning.
Of the 20 cases of fresh strain, eight have been registered by a Delhi lab and a Bengaluru lab has recorded seven cases.
All the infected people are now in isolation, the health ministry said adding that their fellow travelers and close contacts are being traced and quarantined with an aim to contain further spread of the virus.
A total of about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK from November 25 to midnight of December 23, 2020 and all these passengers are being tracked and subjected by states to RT-PCR tests, according to media reports.
Earlier, the Indian government has constituted the INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium) comprising 10 labs across the country for genome sequencing being conducted on all international passengers, who were symptomatic and tested positive for coronavirus in the 14 days from December 9 to 22.
‘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 the INSACOG labs,’ the union health ministry statement added.
In the wake of the new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri this morning announced the extension of temporary suspension of flights to and from the UK till January 7, 2021.
‘Decision has been taken to extend the temporary suspension of flights to & from the UK till 7 January 2021. Thereafter strictly regulated resumption will take place for which details will be announced shortly,’ Puri said on Twitter. The suspension will start from 11.59pm, December 22, 2020, he added.
India had suspended all flights from Britain last week until the end of the month as the new variant of the virus detected in the UK. The detection of the new variant virus has triggered widespread concern and travel restrictions across the world.
Amid global fears over the new mutant strain of coronavirus, India on Tuesday has started door-to-door tracking of passengers, who returned from the United Kingdom since November 25.
It had also decided to conduct test to all the arrivals using the gold standard reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method by district surveillance team.
The new variant of coronavirusis significantly more transmissible than previously circulating variants, with an estimated increase in reproductive number (R) by 0.4 or greater with an estimated increased transmissibility of up to 70 per cent, according to a preliminary modeling results communicated by the UK on December 19.
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