6 UK returnees test positive for COVID variant

Six persons who returned to India from the United Kingdom have tested positive for the new mutated strain of coronavirus, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

It said the UK variant genome of SARS-CoV-2 was detected in three samples in the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Hospital (NIMHANS) Bengaluru, two in the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad and one in the National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune.

All these persons have been kept in single room isolation at designated health care facilities by respective state governments and their close contacts have also been put under quarantine, the ministry said.

“Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on.

“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 ministry said.

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

The ministry said that from November 25 to December 23 midnight, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK.

All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by states and UTs to RT-PCR tests.

So far 114 have been found positive for COVID-19. 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.

“A total of 6 samples of 6 UK returnee persons have been found to be positive with the new UK variant genome,” the ministry said.