West Bengal on Wednesday reported its first case of a mutant strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, that was recently discovered in the United Kingdom.
The patient is the son of a state health worker, and recently returned to Kolkata from the UK. At present, he is in the isolation ward of Calcutta Medical College and Hospital. The patient is asymptomatic at present.
“One was found to be carrying the new strain. All precautions have been taken,” said a health official.
Sources in the state Health Department said everyone he came in contact with was being asked to remain in isolation. Health officials said they were in touch with the airport authorities, and were contacting all the passengers and crew members of the flight the patient had travelled in.
“Everyone will be tested and till then will be asked to stay in isolation,” said an official.
The Health Department said the patient was not kept in the general Covid ward since the character of this mutated strain is unknown. The hospital administration is holding meetings to decide how to treat the patient.
After the new strain came to light, India suspended all UK flights till December 31. Till date, 20 people with the latest strain have been found across India, including Delhi, Pune and Telangana.
Meanwhile, the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine Covaxin was administered to volunteers at the National Institute of Cholera and Enterococcal Diseases, or NICED, here on Wednesday. The third phase of the trial is going on at the moment.
Among those who received the second dose was state Urban Minister Firhad Hakim, who arrived at NICED around noon. He underwent a physical examination before being administered the dose.
“Since I took the first dose, they have been calling me daily for health updates. I am happy that I am a part of the trial. I feel accomplished. If it is successful, then they say it will be useful in case of the new strain as well,” said Hakim.
NICED Director Shanta Dutta told reporters, “We are hopeful that this trial will be successful. If everything goes well, we will get Covaxin, the first indigenously developed anti-coronavirus vaccine in the next two to three months.”
Meanwhile, the state’s active caseload dropped to 12,381 on Wednesday while the recovery rate rose to 95.99 per cent. According to the state health bulletin, in which figures are updated till 9 am, 1,178 people tested positive for the disease in 24 hours as the total caseload crossed 5.5 lakh. The health department said 28 people died in a day, taking the toll up to 9,683.
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