New Delhi: Fourteen more people who returned to India from the United Kingdom have tested positive for the new UK strain of coronavirus, taking the tally to 20.
It is understood that from November 25 to December 23 midnight, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK. How many of them are carrying the strain is a matter of conjecture, thus far.
The poor global response to the new mutant, which is 70 more transmittable, can be gauged from the fact that it was first detected in September this year in the United Kingdom. It became a public scare only by mid-December, finally leading to India and other nations suspending flight operations to and from the UK on December 23.
(These flights will remain suspended till January 7, as per the new order of the ministry.)
Incidentally, the presence of the new variant has already been reported by Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.
The samples of all recent Covid-19 positive cases are being genome sequenced to ascertain the extent and scale of the mutant menace in India. A part of the problem is that authorities in Punjab, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh are finding it difficult to ferret out the returnees. Some travellers are also refusing to surface, for obvious reasons; some others can’t easily traced as they have left incorrect phone number and contact addresses at the airport with the immigration authorities.
All these passengers need to be tracked and subjected to RT-PCR tests by states and Union Territories on a war footing, said sources.
Karnataka seems to be the worst hit: already, seven people who returned to from the UK have been found to be infected with the mutated strain. They are among the 1,614 UK returnees, who were subjected to the tests.