Covid optimistic UK returnees travelled to 9 states: Centre

New Delhi, December 24

Covid positive UK returnees have moved to nine states, including Punjab, the Centre said today, asking all these states to track the travellers and take samples for genome sequencing.

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216 who landed in Asr quarantined

As many as 216 people who arrived in Amritsar from the UK on a Dec 22 flight are being quarantined. They may have come in contact with seven fellow passengers and a crew member who tested Covid+ve on arrival.

Vaccines effective

The vaccines nearing approval will be effective against the mutant virus strain reported by the UK – Harsh Vardhan, Health Minister

The Centre also said so far no UK mutant strain had been detected in India. The other states where UK returnees spread out are Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Goa, Gujarat and Kerala.

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan spoke to his counterparts in these states and asked them to access passenger details from the Bureau of Immigration.

“The states have been advised to send samples of those found positive to the laboratories identified for genome sequencing,” the Health Ministry said.

If found positive with old strain, the passengers will be allowed home isolation, but those infected with mutant strain would be sent to institutional quarantine, it said.

After talking to his UK counterpart Matt Hancock, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan today said the mutant virus strain reported by the UK did not impact vaccines under development and could be detected with the RT-PCR test.

“Even though the new strain is more transmissible, it can be detected using RT-PCR test. It appears that vaccines currently available or nearing approval will be effective against this variant as well,” Vardhan said. “We discussed strengthening ties in the health sector, India’s preparedness for rolling out vaccine and the new virus variant,” he said. — TNS

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