New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: A total of 47 people have tested positive for the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 in India so far. These include three new cases in Karnataka and six more in Kerala reported on Monday. 

Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja said that two cases of the new virus variant have been reported in Kozhikode and Alappuzha while one each has been reported in Kottayam and Kannur. 

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said that 75 people who returned from the UK were yet to be traced and the Home department and the city corporation authorities have assured to locate them soon. 

All these people have been kept in single room isolation in designated healthcare facilities by respective state governments and their close contacts have also been put under quarantine. 

After eight cases of the new variant were reported in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray requested the Centre to quarantine passengers arriving from the United Kingdom at other international airports in the country. 

"It has been brought to the notice of govt that due to strict quarantine rules for UK returnees in Maharashtra, people returning from UK are taking flights to airports outside the state. Later they travel to Mumbai to avoid quarantine," the Maharashtra chief minister's office said.

Of the remaining 38, the mutated UK strain was detected in eight samples at National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), New Delhi, 11 in the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi, one in the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani (near Kolkata), five in the National Institute of Virology in Pune, three in Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad and 10 were sequenced at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Hospital (NIMHANS), Bengaluru. 

The NCBS, InSTEM in Bengaluru, CDFD in Hyderabad, ILS in Bhubaneswar and NCCS in Pune have so far found no UK mutant virus.

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.

The government of India took cognizance of the reports of virus reported from the UK and put in place a proactive and preventive strategy to detect and contain the mutant variant, it said.

This strategy includes temporary suspension of all flights coming from the UK with effect from the midnight of December 23 till January 7 and mandatory testing of all UK-returned air passengers through RT-PCR test.

The samples of all UK returnees found positive in RT-PCR test will be genome sequenced by a consortium of 10 government labs - INSACOG.

Further, all the international passengers who have arrived in India between December 9 to 22, if symptomatic and tested positive for COVID-19, will be subjected to genome sequencing as part of the Centre's strategy to detect the mutated UK variant in them.

Others will be followed up by the respective state and district surveillance officers and will be tested as per ICMR guidelines (even if asymptomatic) between fifth and tenth day, according to the Union Health Ministry's guidance document on genomic sequencing.

Further, epidemiological surveillance of the passengers, who have arrived in India since November 23 will be conducted in the community through active follow up.

Besides, standard operating protocol for states and UTs to tackle the mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2 was issued on December 22.

(With PTI inputs)

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta