New Covid-19 strain in India: 20 returnees from UK test positive for new variant; check state-wise numbers

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New Delhi | Updated: Dec 30, 2020 1:15 PM

Covid new strain in India: Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has said that prior to the news of the UK variant came in, authorities had done roughly 5,000 genome sequences across labs.

CovidThe study said SARS-CoV-2 will infect in multiple small areas of the lung and has the capability to hijack the lungs’ own immune cells.

Covid new strain in India: As many as 20 returnees from the United Kingdom (UK) so far have been found to be carrying the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 that causes Coronavirus, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The new strain of Covid-19, which was traced in the UK, has been termed as more contagious. Flights between London and other parts of the UK and several cities of India have been temporarily suspended.

The mutated UK strain was detected in eight samples at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), one at the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani (near Kolkata), one at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune, seven at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences Hospital (NIMHANS) Bengaluru, two at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad and one at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi, according to details provided by the Union Health Ministry.

“The major population is still susceptible to COVID-19 infection in this cold weather. The UK variant has travelled to several other countries and also to India, this variant may have its own run and we have to very careful. One can’t be careless,” Dr V K Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog said yesterday.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has said that prior to the news of the UK variant came in, authorities had done roughly 5,000 genome sequences across labs in India. “Now we’ll be significantly increasing that number and would be working in a coordinated manner,” Bhushan said.

Meanwhile, Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) labs are releasing results of Genome sequencing of a mutant variant of Covid-19. From November 25 to December 23, 2020 midnight, around 33,000 passengers were tested at various Indian airports from the UK. So far only 114 have been found positive for regular SARS-CoV-2. These positive samples were sent to 10 INSACOG labs NIBMG Kolkata, ILS Bhubaneswar, NIV Pune, CCS Pune, CCMB Hyderabad, CDFD Hyderabad, InSTEM Bengaluru, NIMHANS Bengaluru, IGIB Delhi, and NCDC Delhi for genome sequencing to ascertain whether they were carrying the new Covid strain or not, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a statement.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that a total of 6 samples of the six UK returnee persons have been found to be positive with the new UK variant genome. Three are in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, two in CCMB, Hyderabad and one in NIV, Pune. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that 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. The Government of India has formed the National Task Force (NTF) to overview the situation.

So far, Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore have reported having Covid new strain cases.

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