New Delhi, Dec 22: A mutated and more aggressive strain of the novel coronavirus – which was first identified in the United Kingdom in September – has not been seen in India so far, the government said Tuesday.
The new strain – initial data suggests it is at least 70 per cent more easily transmitted – has sparked concern worldwide, amid surging infection rates in the UK and fears the first lot of vaccines may not be as effective against the mutation.
“The new strain or mutation of (the) coronavirus in the United Kingdom has not been seen in India, so far,” Dr VK Paul, a member of government think-tank NITI Aayog, said.
“(And) as of now, it has no impact on the potential of vaccines being developed in our country and (which) are available in other countries,” he added.
India has joined over 25 other countries in imposing a temporary ban on all flights to and from the UK; the ban begins midnight Wednesday and will be in place till December 31.
This morning the government also announced SOPs for all incoming passengers until then.
The SOPs include mandatory RT-PCR tests for all arrivals and isolation for those testing positive, as well as institutional quarantine for contacts of passengers who test positive. According to the government, “contacts” will include all those within three rows of the infected passenger.
Eight passengers who arrived last night on two separate flights from London have tested positive for the virus. Those on a British Airways flight that landed in Delhi today were tested but found negative.