Tuesday, December 22, 2020

India to track down arrivals from Britain to try to stop new virus strain

Mumbai: India plans to track down everyone arriving from Britain over the past month, officials said on Tuesday, hoping to stop a more infectious strain of the coronavirus detected there spreading in a country battling the world’s second highest COVID-19 tally.

Eight people arriving from Britain tested positive for COVID-19 this week and more results are awaited, officials from three Indian cities said. So far none of the infections appeared to be the new strain, a senior government advisor said, while a testing coordinator said analysis was still ongoing.

Recorded COVID-19 infections in India exceeded 10 million at the weekend, second only to the United States. More than 146,000 people in India are recorded to have died from the disease.

The discovery this month of a new more easily transmissible form of the virus in Britain is a particular concern since several hundred people typically arrive at each of India’s major airports from Britain every day.

India will suspend flights from Britain from Wednesday until the end of the month and has been testing passengers.

“To the best of our knowledge, we have yet to spot such a virus in our country, for which intensive efforts are in the offing,” V.K. Paul, a top COVID-19 adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, told a news briefing.

Authorities will track down passengers who arrived from Britain after Nov. 25 and test anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms, according to a government advisory.

Paul said the new strain would have no impact on vaccine development.

22/12/20  Shilpa Jamkhandikar, Devjyot Ghoshal/Reuters

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