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6 test positive with UK variant of SARS-CoV-2, so far

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Of about 33000 passengers returning from the UK, 114 tested positive post RT-PCT tests; genomic sequencing on remaining samples still underway

Six samples of passengers returning from the UK to India have been found to be positive with the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2, as per the first report put out by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Labs.

As per a health ministry release, all six individuals (three in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, two in CCMB, Hyderabad and one in NIV, Pune) have been kept in single room isolation in designated health care facilities by their state governments. Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine. Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is still underway.

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 health ministry notes that 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 six cases were detected as part of the mandated screening of all passengers from the UK, as per the protocol recommended by India’s National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 in a meeting held on December 26.

Accordingly, about 33000 passengers disembarking at various Indian airports from UK flights between November 25 to December 23 midnight, were tracked and RT-PCR tested in their respective states/UTs.

The 114 samples found positive so far were 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. The six cases detected are part of this screening process, as per a PIB release.

While the NTF concluded in its December 26 meeting that there is no need to change either the existing National Treatment Protocol or existing Testing Protocols in view of the mutant variant, it recommended that in addition to the existing surveillance strategy, it is critical to conduct enhanced genomic surveillance.

(Editing byTeam EH)

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