New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid worries over the six new cases of a mutated strain of coronavirus in India, the Union Civil Aviation Ministry on Tuesday said that it foresees a short extension of the suspension of flights to and from the UK in order to stop the further coming of passengers from the country, where the new strain was found initially. The development came on the day when six returnees from the UK tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus.

"I foresee a short extension on this temporary suspension. I do not see the extension to be long or indefinite," Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said while addressing a press briefing in Delhi.

Puri said that India responded in a pro-active manner since November 25 in checking the passengers returning from Britain and made sure that every returnee completes 14-day quarantine period even after testing negative for the virus. He said that the government is monitoring the situation in other countries too and will take further actions accordingly.

"We had imposed temporary suspensions when we had eight to nine flights daily from the UK. The passengers who came in from the time of the announcement to the next day were subjected to compulsory quarantine at the point of arrival. Even those who tested negative were required to go in mandatory quarantine. We went one step further and we did contact tracing and genome sequencing of passengers from the UK who have come to India since November 25," he said.

This comes 2 days before the ban on flights from the UK, which was imposed by the government on December 22, was about to end. All flights originating from the UK to India are suspended till December 31, 2020.

Puri said that a decision will be taken after a complete review and assessment of the situation in other countries. "What will happen on December 31. This is something on which we are applying our minds. We already on 29th (December). We are getting the full picture. I also see that flights from the UK are currently suspended in other countries too. We are monitoring this and will take a decision accordingly," he added.

Among the six positive cases found today, samples of three UK returnees to the country have been found positive for new Covid strain in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, Two of them are at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad and one in National Institute of Virology, Pune.

All these persons have been kept in single room isolation in designated Health Care facilities by respective state governments. Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine. Comprehensive contact tracing has been started for co-travellers, their families and others, the central government said.

Posted By: Talib Khan