The Health Ministry on Tuesday said that genome sequencing will be conducted on all the international passengers who were symptomatic and tested positive for coronavirus and have arrived in India in the last 14 days, between December 9 to 22.
This announcement comes at a time when India has recorded it first six cases for the new strain of the coronavirus. The longer time span, contact tracing and sweeping scope was decided after it was confirmed that the mutant strain has spread from UK.
Of the six people who have tested positive, three are in NIMHANS Bengaluru, two in Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology Hyderabad and one in National Institute of Virology, Pune.
The UK strain of the Covid-19 virus is said to be 70 per cent more contagious has reached Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.
Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said that the government foresees ‘a short extension’ of the suspension of flights from United Kingdom beyond December 31 due to the fast spreading new mutant strain of coronavirus found in UK.
Dr VK Paul, a member of Niti Aayog at the health ministry briefing said, “It is easy to suppress the virus in the starting. Once the transmission is too widespread, it is hard to control,”
The doctors have said that there is no evidence that the new strain leads to more fatalities or that the it cannot be controlled by existing vaccines but its contagious nature put more people at risk, especially the vulnerable section of the population.
The government has said that the situation is ‘under careful watch.’
The samples of the new strain of Covid-19 is currently being tested at the labs of INSACOG. The government plans to carry out the genome sequencing at 10 laboratories across the country eventually. The labs include NIBMG Kolkata, ILS Bhubaneswar, NIV Pune, CCS Pune, CCMB Hyderabad, CDFD Hyderabad, InSTEM Bengaluru, NIMHANS Bengaluru, IGIB Delhi and NCDC Delhi.
The government also plans to conduct genome sequencing also on 5 per cent of the people who tested positive since November 23to check in on any fresh mutation. The government also said that the samples The samples must have ‘proper representation particularly from the metro cities where there is high probability of having the new SARS-CoV-2 variant,’
India has reported 16,432 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, its lowest spike in daily cases in six months, according to Ministry of Health.The country’s overall coronavirus caseload now stands at 1,02,24,303 with 2,68,581 active Covid-19 cases