Delhi: Samples of 15 who came from UK sent to check new strain of virus

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New Delhi, Dec 29 (PTI) Coronavirus test samples of 15 persons who recently arrived here from the UK and tested positive for COVID-19 have been sent for genome sequencing to check if they have contracted the new variant of the virus, sources said on Tuesday.

The results are expected in the next three-four days, they said.

The new strain of the virus was recently detected in UK and its presence has been reported in several countries, including in India.

The Delhi government had earlier said that people who had arrived here recently from the UK are being traced and tested, and a separate institutional quarantine facility has been set up at the LNJP Hospital for positive cases.

'We have sent samples taken from 15 people who have tested positive after coming from the UK, for genome sequencing to check for the new strain. The results are expected in a couple of days,' a source told PTI.

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday that six persons who returned to India from the UK have tested positive for the new mutated strain of coronavirus.

It said the UK variant genome of SARS-CoV-2 was detected in three samples in the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Hospital (NIMHANS) Bengaluru, two in the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad and one in the National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune.

All these persons have been kept in single-room isolation at designated healthcare facilities by respective state governments and their close contacts have also been put under quarantine, the ministry said.

A comprehensive contact-tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on, it said.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain had on December 23 said that people who had arrived here from the UK are being rigorously traced, and tested if anyone is showing slightest of COVID-19-like symptoms, even as he had asserted the situation in the city was under control with a much lower positivity rate.

Delhi recorded 564 fresh COVID-19 cases, the lowest in at least five months, and 21 more fatalities due to the disease on Monday, even as the positivity rate stood at 0.98 per cent, authorities said.

The city's caseload mounted to 6,23,415 and the death toll due to the coronavirus infection rose to 10,474, they said.

The presence of the new UK variant has already been reported by Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore, so far.

The ministry said that from November 25 to December 23 midnight, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK.

All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by states and UTs to RT-PCR tests.

So far 114 have been found positive for COVID-19. 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.

While it is known and expected that viruses constantly change through mutations leading to the emergence of new variants, preliminary analysis (based on epidemiological and mathematical model) in the UK suggests that this variant is significantly more transmissible than previously circulating variants. PTI KND TIR TIR