India has detected eight cases of the new mutant strain of COVID-19, which was first detected in the United Kingdom (UK), on Tuesday. Reports stated that all eight patients had recently returned from Britain. The mutated strain was detected in the samples in National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) – Hyderabad, and National Institute of Virology (NIV), 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 initiated for co-travelers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on,” said the health ministry.
The eight patients are kept in single room isolation in the concerned healthcare facilities by the state government. Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine. Comprehensive contact tracing has been started for co-travelers, their families and others, the government said. Earlier six cases were confirmed. Out of the six patients, three of them are in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, two of them are in CCMB, Hyderabad and one is admitted in NIV, Pune.
The new mutated UK strain is believed to be 70 percent more infectious, however, according to doctors, there is no reason yet to believe that it is more lethal or will not be controlled by a vaccine.
So far about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK between November 25 and December 23. Among them so far only 114 have been tested positive. So far only 114 have been found positive. “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 government added.
Announcing the UK strain, a government statement read, “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 samples of the eight positive returnees to be sent to 10 INSACOG labs for genome sequencing. The details of the genome surveillance consortium INSACOG – formed to detect the presence of different strains of coronavirus in the country, have been released by the government. Apart from this, 5 percent of the UK returnees’ samples who have been tested positive in India since November 23 will also be sent for the genome sequencing.
“The 10 regional genome sequencing laboratories spread across the country will cater to the nearest states, which will send 5 percent of the positive samples to these labs for genome sequencing,” said the union health ministry.
These 10 labs include- DBT-National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, Kalyani (near Kolkata), DBT-Institute of Life Sciences in Bhubhaneshwar, ICMR-National Institute of Virology and DBT-National Centre for Cell Science in Pune, CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and DBT-Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad, DBT InSTEM/NCBS, Bengaluru, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Hospital in Bengaluru, CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology and NCDC in the national capital.
The Indian government has also ordered mandatory testing of all UK returnee passengers through the RT-PCR test.
The samples must have “proper representation particularly from the metro cities where there is a high probability of having the new SARS-CoV-2 variant”, the government said further.
“Regular monitoring will help in understanding the evolution of the virus, its effect on the transmission of the disease and will also assist in developing potential vaccines in the future,” the government added.
As of now, the mutant strain of COVID-19 found in the UK has been reported by Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, and Singapore.