Delhi: 38 UK returnees found positive for COVID; new strain detected in seven patients

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New Delhi, Dec 29 (PTI) Seven persons who recently arrived in Delhi from the UK and tested positive for COVID-19, have been found infected with the new strain of the coronavirus, officials said on Thursday.

Interacting with reporters, earlier in the day, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said that a total of 38 people have been found positive since coming to Delhi from the UK recently, and kept in a separate institutional isolation unit on the LNJP Hospital premises.

'Four such patients have been found infected with the new UK strain of COVID-19. The persons who came in their contact have been also traced and tested, and its not in them. So, only these four cases of new strain in Delhi so far,' he said.

'Flights have been stopped and those who came before that are being traced and tested rigorously,' he added.

In the evening, a senior official said that a total of seven persons who have recently arrived in Delhi from the UK have been found infected with the new strain of COVID-19.

'Four of these have their addresses in Delhi, while the rest are from other places,' he said.

Delhi recorded 574 fresh COVID-19 cases and 13 new fatalities on Thursday, even as the positivity rate slipped to 0.7 per cent, authorities said.

The infection tally in the city mounted to over 6.25 lakh and death toll rose to 10,536, they said, adding over 81,000 tests were conducted the previous day.

'Positivity rate has dropped to 0.8 per cent (on Wednesday) from 15.26 per cent on November 7. About 85 per cent beds are vacant, so the situation has improved a lot. And, so, it had been decided to make LNJP Hospital and GTB Hospital into partial COVID-19 facilities now. All services, including the OPD will be soon resumed gradually,' Jain said.

As per the latest health bulletin, an order has been issued to create separate institutional isolation facility in four private hospitals on payment basis, for international passengers who have travelled from or transited through the UK in the past four weeks ( November 25 to December 24) and tested positive.

These facilities are -- Max Smart Super Specialty Hospital, Saket; Batra Hospital & Research Centre, Tughlakabad Institutional Area; Fortis Super Specialty Hospital, Vasant Kunj; and Sir Ganga Ram City Hospital, the order said.

On the preparedness for the vaccination, Jain said, work is on to set up 1,000 vaccination centres.

'Also, so far we are aware that the vaccines will be made available freely by the central government,' he said.

On the night curfew in Delhi in view of New Year's celebrations, Jain said the COVID-19 situation is under control right now, but huge gatherings could spell trouble again, and therefore, the curfew has been imposed.

The Delhi government has imposed night curfew from 11 pm to 6 am on December 31 and January 1 to avoid large gatherings during New Year celebrations due to COVID-19 and its highly transmissible UK strain.

Amid mounting concerns over the new variant of the COVID-19, the Delhi government had earlier said that people who had arrived here recently from that country, are being traced and tested, while an institutional quarantine facility has been set up separately for positive cases at the LNJP Hospital. According to the Thursday bulletin, out of the total number of 18,718 beds in COVID hospitals, 16,622 are vacant.

It said that 108 beds in COVID care centres are occupied by persons under quarantine, including travellers who have returned by Vande Bharat Mission and bubble flights.

The Delhi government had significantly ramped up testing in the past few weeks, with the count on several times crossing the 60,000-mark.

The number of tests done per million, as on Wednesday, was over 4.5 lakh while the total number of tests stood at over 86 lakh.

The bulletin said that 6,09,322 patients have recovered, been discharged or migrated so far.

The number of containment zones in Delhi dropped to 4085 on Thursday.

The number of people in home isolation dropped to 2,761 on Thursday. PTI KND ANB ANB