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New Covid variant: Karnataka to closely track travellers from three countries, their contacts

🔴 Travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong, where cases of the new Covid variant B.1.1529 have been confirmed, will be closely monitored

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru |
November 26, 2021 6:41:13 pm
Those arriving from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong, where cases of the new B.1.1529 variant were confirmed, "should be subjected to rigorous screening and testing”. (File)

Acting upon the directions issued by the Union Health Ministry to rigorously screen and test travellers coming from or transiting through three countries where a new variant of the novel coronavirus has been identified, Karnataka has decided to “closely track” contacts of those arriving from these countries as well.

The instruction issued to health officials across the state by Principal Secretary T K Anil Kumar states that those arriving from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong, where cases of the new B.1.1529 variant were confirmed, “should be subjected to rigorous screening and testing”.

Kumar underlined that the contacts of these international travellers should also be closely tracked and tested as per guidelines. “It should also be ensured that the samples of such international travellers testing positive for Covid-I9 should be sent to designated INSACoG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs) for genome sequencing and these samples should be sequenced on priority,” he added in a circular issued to airport officials, deputy commissioners and health officers across the state.

Meanwhile, district administrations have been instructed to strictly adhere to the strategy of test, track, treat and vaccinate to ensure “stringent implementation of containment measures.”

Earlier on Thursday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said India’s National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has informed the government that “multiple cases of a Covid-19 variant B.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (3 cases), South Africa (6 cases) and Hong Kong (1 case).” A communication mentioning the same was sent to all states and Union territories.

Of the four variants of concern (VoC) currently designated by the World Health Organization, Beta (Pango lineage B.1.351), was first detected in South Africa in May 2020. The other three VoCs, Alpha (B.1.1.7), Delta (B.1.617.2) and Gamma (P.1) were first detected in the United Kingdom (September 2020), India (October 2020) and Brazil (November 2020), respectively.

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