COVID-19 in India update: Health Ministry calls for high-level meeting to discuss new strain found in UK

The Union Health Ministry has called for a high-level meeting on Monday to discuss the new Coronavirus strain found in the United Kingdom.

A senior government official told news agency ANI, that the Joint Monitoring Group (JGM) has decided to hold a meeting to discuss the new Covid strain found in the United Kingdom. Representatives of the World Health Organisation are likely to attend the meeting, said the official.

"As far as India is concerned, there is no major change or mutation in the Covid strain yet. We are studying strains of coronavirus very closely in our country. But, yes, we also keep a track of whatever is happening in the world related to the variants of COVID-19 strain," said the official.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Sunday raised the prospect that London could be under lockdown for months as he has warned it will be "very difficult" to keep a virulent new strain of the coronavirus under control until vaccinations are rolled out.

The new tighter restrictions will be reviewed on December 30, 2020. However, the health secretary indicated it was unlikely they would be relaxed at that point.

"It is going to be very difficult to keep it under control until we have the vaccine rolled out," he said. "We know with this new variant you can catch it more easily from a small amount of the virus being present." "All of the different measures we have in place, we need more of them to control the spread of the new variant than we did to control the spread of the old variant," he said.

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new Tier Four of coronavirus restrictions for London and other parts of England to combat an alarming surge in infections linked to a new virulent strain.

From Sunday morning, London, the South East and East of England will move into Tier Four restrictions, which will be broadly similar to national restrictions introduced in England in November, Johnson announced at a virtual press conference at Downing Street.

The prime minister said the latest infections in parts of England are "being driven by the new variant of the virus". "New variant may be up to 70 percent more transmissible," he said.

(Inputs from ANI)

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