Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 21
Starting midnight today until December 31, India has suspended inbound flights from the UK after the country reported a new, highly virulent “out of control” strain of SARS-CoV2 virus that causes Covid-19.
All passengers arriving from the UK in transit flights (that have taken off or flights that are reaching India before December 22 at 23.59 hours) will be subject to a mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival at airports. Those found positive will be sent for institutional quarantine or isolation facility set up by the states and UTs concerned. Those found negative will be advised home isolation for seven days.
NIV-Pune keeping track
India is keeping an eye on any potential mutation of the virus. The ICMR’s National Institute of Virology, Pune, is already on the job, say officials.
The flights from India to the UK shall also stand temporarily suspended during above said period. The Ministry of Civil Aviation announced the measures following an advice by the joint monitoring group on Covid-19, which met today to review data from the UK. A mutated viral strain — 70 per cent more infectious than the existing ones — is said to be circulating in the UK, causing rapid infections across London and Southern England. “A distinct phylogenetic cluster of SARS-CoV2 (named lineage B.1.1.7) has been detected. This strain is spreading and growing rapidly in the UK. It has been reported that this variant has an unusually large number of genetic changes, particularly in the spike protein.
This development calls for enhanced epidemiological surveillance, enhanced containment and other measures to effectively tackle the challenge,” Health Secretary Rajesh Bushan said in an urgent communication to his Civil Aviation counterpart Pradeep Singh Kharola.
Bhushan noted that an interjection of a SARS-CoV2 variant virus through air passengers could pose critical risks for pandemic management in India.
The monitoring group also suggested that Covid-positive people be quarantined or isolated and negative ones be advised a weeklong home isolation.