22 Dec 2020: Government issues SOPs after new coronavirus strain emerges: Details here
The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday issued standard operating protocols (SOPs) in response to the emergence of a new coronavirus strain.
Nearly a year into the pandemic, the United Kingdom reported a variant of the virus to the World Health Organization which has 17 mutations, the Ministry said.
It highlighted an N501Y mutation in the spike protein, which could make the virus more infectious.
Travel: Government had already ordered suspension of all India-UK flights
The government has already suspended air travel to and from the UK starting 11:59 pm on Tuesday till 11:59 pm on December 31.
Passengers reaching India between December 21-23 will be subjected to RT-PCR tests. If positive, a spike gene-based RT-PCR test will be conducted.
If negative, passengers will be advised home quarantine while authorities will conduct regular follow-ups on their health.
Testing: Samples from those who test positive to be genome sequenced
The government has said the new strain has not been seen in India yet.
However, if the genome sequencing indicates the presence of the new variant, the passenger will be isolated until two consecutive samples taken 24 hours apart are tested negative.
If the viral strain is consistent with the strains already circulating in the Indian population, the ongoing treatment protocol will be followed.
Travel history: Recent international travelers asked to share 14-day travel history
Passengers who have traveled from or transited through UK in the past four weeks (November 25-December 23) are required to declare their travel history for the past 14 days and submit a Self Declaration Form to be screened for COVID-19.
All contacts of those who test positive will be subjected to institutional quarantine.
States have been directed to prepare a list of international returnees.
Travel history: Those who test negative to be home quarantined, monitored
The travelers who test negative will be home quarantined and monitored.
International travelers who reached India between November 25-December 8 will be contacted by District Surveillance Officers and advised to self-monitor their health. If they show symptoms, they will be tested.
If the test is found positive, a spike gene-based RT-PCR test will be conducted.
Travel history: Recent international travelers asked to self-monitor symptoms
Travelers who reached India between December 9-23 will also be tested. They will receive daily calls/visit from State Health officials.
They are advised to self-monitor symptoms. If any symptoms indicative of COVID-19 appear, the advisory recommends wearing a mask, isolating at home, and alerting the District Surveillance Officer.
The surveillance officer will ensure daily follow up of passengers for 28 days after arrival.