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Amid New COVID Strain Fears, Many Returning From UK Test Positive

India’s suspension of flights to and from the UK takes effect on 23 December. 

Updated
COVID-19
2 min read
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As worries over the new strain of coronavirus detected in the UK rise, several passengers returning from the country to India have tested positive for COVID-19.

At least two passengers in a flight carrying 222 passengers from the UK were found positive for COVID-19, after they arrived at the airport in Kolkata on Sunday, 20 December, NDTV reported.

“Twenty-five passengers did not have COVID-19 reports with them. So they were taken to a nearby quarantine centre, and their coronavirus tests were conducted. Two tested positive,” NDTV quoted a West Bengal Health and Family Welfare Department official as saying.

Five other people also tested positive after a flight arrived at the Delhi airport from London on Monday night.

More Test Positive in Ahmedabad, Punjab and Chennai

Meanwhile, in Ahmedabad, four passengers, including a British national, who arrived at the airport by an Air India flight from London, tested positive for the virus, officials quoted by PTI said.

"Four out of the 275 passengers who have arrived from the United Kingdom have tested positive for coronavirus," Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Health Officer Bhavin Solanki said.

In Punjab, the state health minister said eight travellers out of 262 from the UK have been found positive and have been isolated as per the standard operating procedure.

Another passenger, who arrived at the Chennai domestic airport from UK via Delhi, also tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, according to The News Minute.

Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan confirmed the same to TNM and said that the samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, to identify if this could be the new strain of virus spreading in the UK.

Addressing the reporters in Chennai airport, Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said, "This may not be the COVID-19 strain reported from the UK but we have sent the sample to NIV Pune to identify the type of strain. So, we will announce based on the findings. Among the 533 passengers on the Delhi-based flight, we tested eight members of which one person has tested positive. We have kept 15 passengers under quarantine and have moved the individual COVID-19 positive passenger to King’s Institute, Guindy.”

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The New Virus Variant

After the UK reported a new variant of the virus spreading more rapidly than the earlier coronavirus strain, several countries, including India, have suspended flight operations to and from the country.

The Indian government has temporarily suspended all flights from and to the United Kingdom from Wednesday, 23 December, to 31 December until 11:59 pm, over the new “out of control” strain of the coronavirus in the country.

Meanwhile, the WHO said that the new strain of COVID-19 discovered in the UK, which is said to be 70 percent more transmissible, is not “out of control” yet and can be controlled using existing measures.

“We have had a much higher (contamination rate) at different points in this pandemic and we've got it under control,” WHO's emergencies chief Michael Ryan said, addressing a press conference.

(With inputs from PTI, NDTV, ANI and The News MInute.)

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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