Corona Virus: The health ministry confirms that 7 UK returnees test positive for the new strain.

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Corona Virus: The health ministry confirms that 7 UK returnees test positive for the new strain.


At least six people who recently returned to India from the United Kingdom have been infected with the new, more contagious strain of the novel coronavirus VUI (Variant Under Investigation) 202012/1, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said December 29, 2020.

While the ministry has not yet specified the states these six persons belong to, a source said three are from Chennai, Telangana, and Andhra Pradesh. Response to a query sent to the ministry by DTE is awaited.


Three of the six people have been confirmed positive for the new strain at the laboratories of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru; two in the Centre for Cellular and Microbiology, Hyderabad; and one at the National Institute of Virology, Pune.

As many as 114 people were found positive for the novel coronavirus after they returned from the UK between November 25 and December 23, 2020, the ministry added. The samples have been sent for genome sequencing at 10 labs in Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Delhi to find out whether they had the UK variant.


The Union government said 33,000 people had landed in India from the UK between November 25 and December 23 at midnight, adding that all were tracked and tested. However, several media reports alleged that 279 returnees went missing from Telangana.

In an interview with Down to Earth, director-general of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, SC Mande, had said that while there were statements downplaying the presence of the UK variant in India, it was too early to claim the same. The country would need to be on the watch, he had said.

The new variant has already been confirmed in Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon, and Singapore. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in its research had stated that the variant is 70 percent more transmissible and therefore, can lead to a much faster spread of the infection.


The ECDC, however, had said there was no clarity on the severity of the infection caused by the transmission of the strain. The impact on the ongoing development of the vaccines and their efficacy is also yet not fully clear either, as the antigenic properties of the new strain are still being studied.

R4Rin Team
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