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    As newer COVID variants wreak havoc, states race to identify and contain foreign returnees

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    Amid news about the discovery of more infectious strains of coronavirus wreaking havoc across the globe, sources reported that at least 22 people who came to India from the UK in the past few days have tested positive for COVID-19.

    Eleven people who came from or via the UK have tested positive in Delhi, eight in Amritsar, two in Kolkata and one in Chennai, the publication quoted authorities, adding that, however, mutant strains of the virus have not yet been discovered in India.

    After the discovery of a new UK viral strain, VUI-202012/0, with 70 per cent more transmissibility, another strain, reported to be even more virulent, has raised concerns among the medical community.

    Two cases of this more transmissible variant have been detected, both linked to travel to South Africa, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Wednesday. Calling the new strain “highly concerning” Hancock said it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK.

    In light of the fresh discoveries, passengers coming from the UK should undergo RT-PCR test and be isolated in a separate unit of an institutional facility if found positive, stated the Centre’s standard operating procedure issued on Tuesday.

    All passengers coming from the UK would be subjected to the RT-PCR test on arrival and this has to be ensured by respective state governments, the SOP stated. Those found negative in RT-PCR test at the airport would be advised quarantine at home and followed up.

    The passengers who are found positive shall be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate unit coordinated by the respective state health authorities. They would earmark specific facilities for such isolation and treatment, it said.

    States are also now in a race to identify and contain foreign returnees.

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