Eight persons in Maharashtra who returned from United Kingdom recently have tested positive for the B.1.1.7 lineage, a new mutation responsible for widespread transmission in the UK.
The eight — five from Mumbai, one each from Pune, Mira Bhayander and Thane — are the first in the state to test positive for the mutated variant. “They have all been kept in isolation ward and contact tracing is under way,” said Health Minister Rajesh Tope. “There is no need to panic. This mutated virus spreads faster, therefore Covid appropriate behaviour like wearing mask, maintaining physical distance is important,” the minister added.
In Mumbai, deputy executive health officer Dr Daksha Shah said the five with the B.1.1.7 strain have been kept isolated in Seven Hills hospital. All patients are stable and will be isolated for at least 14 days. Apart from Seven Hills, Gokuldas Tejpal hospital has also been designated to admit cases with the mutated variant. State officials said they plan to segregate all Covid-19 patients from patients with mutated variant to avoid cross infection.
The state government has been reaching out to all international passengers flying in from UK between November 25 and December 21 to screen them for Covid related symptoms. Flights until December 23 from UK and Middle East were also screened and passengers were sent for institutional quarantine for 14 days. Inbound flights from UK remain banned until January 6 and will be resumed with limited operations after that.
So far, 4,836 passengers who arrived from UK since November 25 have been traced, and 3,390 of them tested. At least 822 passengers have completed a 28-day observation period. Seventy-two have tested positive and till now eight have the mutated variant. Of the 72, Mumbai has 30, Pune 14, Thane 8, Nagpur 9 Nashik, Aurangabad, Raigad and Buldhana 2 each, Osmanabad, Nanded and Washim 1 each.
State epidemiologist Dr Pradeep Awate said 495 high risk contacts of these 72 cases have been traced and quarantined. Of all high risk contacts 30 contacts have tested positive. The state health department has sent samples of 68 positive cases to National Institute of Virology, Pune, for genome sequencing and four remaining samples are in process to be sent.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines