New pressure reaches India, 6 UK returnees +ve

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 29

India today became the 14th country to confirm the presence of a new and more infectious strain of the Covid-19 virus with six persons who returned from the UK between December 21 and 23 testing positive. The samples of all international passengers who arrived between December 9 and 22 and tested positive will be subjected to genome sequencing to detect the mutant strain.

  • Govt: Vaccines effective against mutated strain
  • 33,000 UK flyers arrived between Nov 25 and Dec 23
  • 114 found +ve, samples sent for genome sequencing

The Union Health Ministry said the six persons were in isolation, their contacts had been quarantined and contact-tracing was in progress. In all, 33,000 passengers from the UK disembarked across Indian airports between November 25 and December 23. Of them, 114 have been found positive and their samples had been sent for genome sequencing, said officials. “This is an ongoing process,” Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said today as India stepped up surveillance for virus mutations.

The 5 per cent random samples from Covid-positive people per state (new cases detected since November 25) which the government will test for mutations will include flyers from nations other than the UK as the strain is now widespread.

In good news, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister K Vijay Raghavan said the current vaccines would work against the variant and there was no evidence to the contrary. “The virus variants are not sufficient to make the vaccines ineffective,” said Raghavan, advising “extraordinary caution as the mutant was 70 per cent more infectious”.

Most of the tracked 30,000 UK returnees came between December 21 midnight and December 23. The 28-day tracking period — beginning November 25 — was adopted to be on the safer side as the virus incubation time is 14 days, Bhushan said.

The government asked people to maintain extreme caution through winters and New Year festivities with NITI Aayog Member (Health) VK Paul saying the Centre had advised the states to consider night curfews to prevent overcrowding. “The parties must be avoided as these can turn into super-spreading events,” Paul said as India’s daily cases dropped to 16,432 — below the 17,000-mark after 187 days. 

Vaccine dry run successful: Centre

The Health Ministry on Tuesday said the two-day dry run for Covid-19 vaccination in Punjab, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat was successful. The objective of dry run was to undertake and confirm field implementation of CoWIN and test vaccine delivery arrangements.

UK flights likely to remain suspended

New Delhi: In view of the new Covid-19 strain being detected, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said there could be slight extension of temporary suspension of passenger flights between India and the UK. TNS

Central forces to assist in vax waste disposal

New Delhi: The government has asked the Central armed police forces to prepare for extending a helping hand in waste disposal management during Covid-19 vaccination programme to be launched soon. TNS

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