20 more UK returnees detected with new COVID-19 strain, total 58 positive cases in India, says Health Ministry

New Delhi: The total number of cases infected with the new strain of the novel Coronavirus that was first reported in the United Kingdom now stands at 58, the Union Health & Family Welfare Ministry said on Tuesday. 

“All these persons have been kept in single-room isolation in designated healthcare facilities by the respective state governments. Their close contacts have also been put in quarantine. Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on,” the Health Ministry said.

Of these total cases, eight have been registered at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), 11 at CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), (both in Delhi), and 10 at National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru.

Three such cases have been detected at Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, one at National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in West Bengal, and 25 at National Institute of Virology, Pune.

The Ministry further stated that the NCBS, InSTEM, Bengaluru, CDFD Hyderabad, ILS Bhubaneswar, and NCCS Pune have so far found no UK mutant virus. The positive samples are being tested at 10 INSACOG labs (NIBMG Kolkata, ILS Bhubaneswar, NIV Pune, NCCS Pune, CCMB Hyderabad, CDFD Hyderabad, InSTEM Bengaluru, NIMHANS Bengaluru, IGIB Delhi, NCDC Delhi) for genome sequencing.

The Ministry said that it is monitoring the situation closely and giving regular advice to the states for enhanced surveillance, containment, testing and dispatch of samples to labs.

This is to be noted that apart from India, the new strain has been reported in several countries including Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore. Meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, the Civil Aviation Ministry has partially restricted the operations of flights between India and the UK.

Flights from India to the UK can commence from January 6, while operations from the UK to India will begin on January 8. The Ministry has also issued a set of guidelines for passengers from the UK. All passengers will have to submit a self-declaration form on the online portal of Delhi Airport (www.newdelhiairport.in) and need to carry a negative report of the RT-PCR test conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey.

Meanwhile, India on Tuesday recorded 16,375 new cases of coronavirus – the lowest in over six months – the Union Health Ministry data said. This has taken the country’s COVID-19 caseload to 1,03,56,844, according to The Health Ministry. The death toll increased to 1,49,850 with 201 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 AM showed. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 99,75,958 pushing the national recovery rate to 96.32 per cent, while the COVID-19 case fatality rate stands at 1.45 per cent.

The COVID-19 active caseload remained below 3 lakh for the 15th consecutive day. There are 2,31,036 active coronavirus infections in the country which comprises 2.23 per cent of the total caseload, the data stated.

India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19.

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