New COVID variant found in samples of six UK returnees in India

at 11:23 am
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New Delhi (NVI): The government today announced that the new UK variant genome of SARS-CoV2 virus has been found in samples of six UK returnees to India.

According to an official statement, the initial results of genome sequencing of positive samples were released by the Indian Sars-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (Insacog) labs.

“A total of six samples of six UK returnees have been found to be positive with the new UK variant genome. 3 in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, 2 in CCMB, Hyderabad and 1 in NIV, Pune,” said the Ministry of Health in a statement.

The statement added, “All these persons have been kept in single room isolation in designated health care facilities by respective state governments and their close contacts have also been put under quarantine.”

“Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others, while genome sequencing on other specimens is going on,” the ministry said.

About 33,000 passengers had disembarked at various Indian airports from UK between November 25 to December 23 midnight. All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by States and UTs to RT-PCR tests.

So far, of all the samples tested, 114 samples have been found positive. These positive samples have been sent to 10 Insacog labs (NIBMG Kolkata, ILS Bhubaneswar, NIV Pune, CCS Pune, CCMB Hyderabad, CDFD Hyderabad, InSTEM Bengaluru, NIMHANS Bengaluru, IGIB Delhi, NCDC Delhi) for genome sequencing.

Notably, 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 INSACOG labs.

Meanwhile, government of India had taken cognizance of the reports of mutant variant of SARS- CoV-2 virus and put in place a pro-active and preventive strategy to detect and contain the mutant variant, the ministry further said.

This strategy includes, but is not limited to, the following steps which follows as temporary suspension of all flights coming from UK with effect from the midnight of December 23 till December 31.

The mandatory testing of all UK returnee air passengers through RT-PCR test. The samples of all UK returnees found positive in RT-PCR test to be genome sequenced by a consortium of 10 govt. labs i.e. Insacog. Also, meeting of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 on December 26 to consider and recommend Testing, Treatment, Surveillance and Containment Strategy.

The presence of the new UK Variant has already been reported by Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore so far, the statement said.