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Poonam Singh

New Delhi: Concerned over a new strain of coronavirus in the UK that is feared to be more contagious, several countries have barred passenger flights to/from the UK. Reacting on this development, Rajasthan CM Ashok Ghelot and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal have also demanded a similar ban. However, the central government is yet to take decision on it.

Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry has called an emergency meeting of its top advisors to discuss the emergence of a mutated variant of the novel Coronavirus in the UK.

50% Indians want flights banned

To limit the spread of mutated variant of novel Coronavirus from the UK and South Africa reaching Indian shores, 50 per cent citizens want bubble flights from impacted countries to be suspended, a survey revealed on Monday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on December 19, announced that the newly identified strain of the virus may be up to 70 per cent more transmissible. His Health Secretary Matt Hancock emphasized that the new variant is "out of control".

The infectious mutation of the Covid-19 virus has caused serious concern around the world. Saudi Arabia, Italy, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, etc., have banned flights to and from the UK after report of the mutant strain came to the fore.

'LocalCircles' conducted a survey on 7,091 people after the news also created ripples in India, which is already reeling under the burden of coronavirus infections with over 1 crore and 50,000 cases already.

A question -- 'a new variant of coronavirus has been found in UK and South Africa which is more infectious. What should be India's approach to bubble flight arriving from such countries?' was asked to the participants.

To this, 50 per cent participants said that they want bubble flights from impacted countries suspended, while 41 per cent sought mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving passengers.

Six per cent citizens said that India should continue with the current rules treating flights from these countries similar to others, while three per cent people voted 'can't say'.

It is yet to be seen what steps India takes to limit the mutant virus from entering the country. Earlier today, the Health Ministry had called an emergency meeting of its top advisors to discuss the issue.

Rajasthan CM Gehlot urges govt to ban flights

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday expressed concern on the new strain of novel coronavirus emerging in the UK and urged the Central government to ban all flights from Britain and other European countries immediately.

He also criticised the Central government for being late in banning international flights when the coronavirus had started spreading in the initial phase.

In a tweet, Gehlot said: "The new strain of novel coronavirus emerging in the UK is a matter of great concern. The government must take prompt action, prepare a contingency plan to contain the same and also immediately ban all flights from the UK and other European countries."

"When coronavirus had started spreading, we were late in banning international flights, which had led to a drastic spike in cases," he added.'

"India needs both a preparedness plan as well as steps to restrict any movement from affected country or countries. Our medical experts must be ready with a treatment plan in case of any outbreak of the new strain of virus. Health protocols must be adhered to even more strictly," he said further.

Delhi CM urges Centre to ban incoming flights

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday urged the central government to ban all incoming flights from the country "immediately".

Kejriwal made the appeal after at least five countries on Sunday banned travel from the United Kingdom.

In a tweet, Kejriwal said, "New mutation of coronavirus has emerged in UK, which is a super-spreader. I urge central govt to ban all flights from UK immediately."

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on December 19 made the announcement about the new variant of the Sars-Cov-2, saying it has spread rapidly in parts of the country, and was estimated by scientists to be 70 per cent more transmissible.

Less than 24 hours after the announcement, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Italy have suspended flights from UK.

Meanwhile, alluding to the emergence of a mutated variant of coronavirus in the UK, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday clarified that there is no need to panic as the government is alert on the issue. He was addressing a press conference on India International Science Festival-2020.

(With IANS Inputs)

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