Three new variants of COVID-19, from the UK, South Africa and Brazil, have been reported so far in India, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday. As on March 4, 2021, a total 242 samples have tested positive for different variants in India, Choubey said in a written reply to a Rajya Sabha query regarding the total number of people who have been infected with the new strains.
On whether the people who have been infected once could get re-infected by the new virus strain,Choubey said as per World Health Organisation, in the three countries where the pandemic is being driven by the variant mutants of SARS-CoV-2 virus, namely United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, the South African and Brazilian variants have the potential to reinfect persons who have been previously infected with SARS-CoV-2. Recognizing that the mutant variants of SARS-CoV-2 are driving the pandemic in countries of their origin, namely United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, Government of India has revised its guidelines for international travel to minimize the risk of importation and further spread of these mutant variants in India, he said.
A genomic consortium of 10 regional laboratories with National Center for Disease Control as the apex laboratory has been established to perform genomic sequencing of the samples from positive travellers and 5 per cent of the positive test samples from the community. Such international travellers who test positive are kept in special isolation ward, till such time they test negative. The contacts of such cases are also kept under institutional quarantine, till such time they test negative. "No case of re-infection by mutant variants of SARS-CoV-2 virus has been reported from India so far," the minister said.