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    Health ministry: 6 UK returnees test positive for new mutant virus strain

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    The new UK variant genome of Sars-Cov-2 virus has made its way into India, with six UK returnees testing positive for the new variant, according to the initial results of genome sequencing of positive samples released by the Indian Sars-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (Insacog) labs on Tuesday.

    “A total of six samples of six UK returnee persons have been found to be positive with the new UK variant genome. 3 in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, 2 in CCMB, Hyderabad and 1 in NIV, Pune,” said union ministry of health and family welfare in a statement.

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

    From November 25 to midnight, December 23, 2020, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from UK. All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by states to RT-PCR tests to detect Covid-19.

    Of all the samples tested, 114 samples have tested positive for Covid-19 so far. 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.

    “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 statement further said.

    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.

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