22 people who took the UK-India flight have tested positive for COVID-19 and these samples have been sent for advanced testing to specialised labs like the National Institute of Virology in Pune to understand whether the infection is from the mutant coronavirus. Of those who have tested positive one is in Delhi, eight in Amritsar, two in Kolkata and one in Chennai.
India so far had confirmed that the new strain of the coronavirus was not found in the country even as flights from UK have been banned. However researchers say that the new strain might already be present in India. According to news agency ANI, a 28-year-old man in Nagpur, who tested positive for COVID-19 on December 15, is suspected to be carrying the new strain of COVID-19 found in the UK, administration of Government Medical College, Nagpur said on Thursday.
As per Dr Avinash Gawande, Superintendent, Government Medical College Nagpur, the patient, who returned from the UK on November 29, was tested at the airport on arrival but was found COVID-19 negative at the time. “After seven days he started showing symptoms and complained about the loss of smell. He was again tested for COVID-19 at Nandanvan public health clinic (PHC) and his Rapid Antigen test came on December 15.” Said Dr Gawande.
The man has been kept in a separate ward after being admitted to hospital on December 22nd while his final reports are yet to come out, to ascertain whether he does have the new strain. The sample was sent for RT-PCR test to Pune. “After receiving the report from Pune, it can be said whether this patient is a new strain or an old strain.” said Radhakrishnan B, Municipal Commissioner, Nagpur. His family members have also tested positive for COVID-19.
The new mutant strain which is believed to be contagious, was first identified in Britain and these cases have originated from South Africa according to the UK health secretary Matt Hancock. The two new cases detected in the UK has a history of travelling from South Africa over the last few weeks. The South Africa health department too had confirmed that a new genetic mutation of the coronavirus was discovered which is responsible for the recent surge in infections.
Flights from UK to India have been temporarily suspended till December 31st.