Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

New Delhi: All international passengers who arrived in India during the 14 days, from December 9 to December 22, if symptomatic and tested positive, will be subjected to genome sequencing in a bid to find if they have the new UK coronavirus strain.

Others will be followed up by the respective states and district surveillance officers and tested as per ICMR guidelines, even if asymptomatic, between 5th and 10th day, according to the Union Health Ministry's guidance document on genomic sequencing.

"All the international passengers who have arrived in India during last 14 days (from 9th December to 22nd December, 2020), if symptomatic and tested positive will be subjected to genome sequencing," it stated.

Besides this, ten regional labs have been identified by the Centre where states and Union Territories will send five per cent of their Covid-19 positive samples for genome sequencing to detect the new coronavirus variant.

The UK government had recently announced that the newly identified strain of the virus found in their population is up to 70 per cent more transmissible.

A total of six UK returnees were found to be positive with the new variant genome, the Central government announced on Tuesday, adding that all these persons have been kept in a single room isolation in designated health care facilities.

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.

Pursuant to announcement by the British government, India had taken cognisance of the reports of mutant variant and put in place a pro-active and preventive strategy to detect and contain the mutant variant. It included temporary suspension of all flights coming from UK with effect from the midnight of December 23 till December 31.

From November 25 to December 23 midnight, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from UK. All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by states and UTs to RT-PCR tests.

(With IANS Inputs)