With a new Covid-19 strain being detected in the United Kingdom, the Delhi government will test all passengers coming to Delhi from the country from Tuesday. While the Ministry of Civil Aviation has suspended all flights connecting India to the UK till December 31, there are three flights scheduled to reach Delhi on Tuesday.
According to Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, the government will also contact all those who arrived from the UK in the past two weeks.
He told The Indian Express, “Over the past two weeks, 4,200 people have come to Delhi from the UK. A list of these people and their contact numbers has been prepared. District-level teams will be contacting each person and tests will be done. Efforts will be made to contain possible spread of the mutated virus. By tomorrow, 400 more people will land via the last flights into the country from UK for now.”
On Monday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged the Centre to immediately ban all flights from the UK over the “super-spreader” mutation. “New mutation of coronavirus has emerged in the UK, which is a super-spreader. I urge the central govt to ban all flights from the UK immediately,” he tweeted.
A high-level meeting was attended by top health officials to lay down the roadmap for community surveillance and testing of passengers from the UK.
Sources in the state health department said the samples tested positive through RT-PCR will be preserved for 14 days to find out the genome sequencing of Covid-19. “The samples will then be sent to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for genome sequencing,” said a senior state health department official. Those testing negative will be isolated for seven days.
Officials, meanwhile, said though they will contact all those people who arrived from the UK over the past two weeks, tracing their movements and activities was not very feasible as there is no lockdown anymore.
Delhi recorded the least number of fresh Covid-19 cases — 803 — in over four months Monday. Even as daily testing dipped to a little over 62,000 — as is usual on Sundays — the positivity rate remained below 2 percent.
The last time the city recorded fewer than 803 cases was on August 17 when 747 of 14,000 people tested positive.
Delhi has been testing an average of around 75,000 people per day over the past month and the positivity rate has been dipping since the beginning of December.
EXPLAINED: Faster spread
The new variant, which UK scientists have named “VUI — 202012/01”, includes a genetic mutation in the “spike” protein that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus uses to infect human cells. According to scientists, these changes, in theory, can lead to a quicker spread of Covid between people.
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