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38 positive for UK Covid-19 strain in India, experts say no need to panic

Pune youth among eight contract new variant in Maharashtra, 28-day isolation protocol is in place

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune | Updated: January 4, 2021 9:59:03 pm
38 positive for UK Covid-19 strain in India, experts say no need to panicAccording to officials, the patient is a 32-year-old man who returned to India on December 21. (File photo)

Eight samples were found to be positive for the UK Covid-19 variant in Maharashtra, of which one is from Pune, state health officials said. So far, a total of 38 samples have been found to be positive with the UK variant genome in the country.

Pune Municipal Corporation’s Medical Officer of Health Dr Ashish Bharti said that a 26-year-old youth, who had returned from the UK, was kept in quarantine at Naidu Hospital after he had tested positive for Covid-19. His test sample had been sent to the National Institute of Virology for genomic tests, and on Monday, authorities confirmed it to be a case of the new Covid-19 variant.

The youth’s mother and uncle who were in his immediate contact, however, tested negative for the virus. Dr Bharti said the 28-day isolation protocol is being observed though on January 1, the youth’s sample had tested negative for Covid-19. “He was also asymptomatic,” Dr Bharti said.

State Surveillance Officer Dr Pradeep Awate said that the remaining five persons with the UK variant were from Mumbai, including two from Meera Bhayander and Thane.

“We have traced a total of 4,836 travelers so far and 822 have completed 28 days of isolation since their arrival. At least 3,390 were tested for Covid-19 via RT-PCR and 72 were found to be positive. Of these, 30 were from Mumbai, 14 from Pune, eight from Thane, nine from Nagpur, two each from Nashik, Aurangabad, Raigad and Buldhana and one each from Osmanabad, Nanded and Washim,” Dr Awate said. Health authorities also traced 495 persons who had close contacts with the Covid-19 patients, and of these, 293 were tested.

Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases Division at the Indian Council of Medical Research Dr Samiran Panda told The Indian Express that high transmissibility does not necessarily go hand-in-hand with high virulence. While speaking on the nature of the virus and its mutation tendencies at a meet, organised by Heal-Thy Samvaad in association with the International Council for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, Dr Panda said that a symbiotic relationship evolves over a period of time in which a virus goes from an epidemic existence to an endemic one and with less virulence potential.

Professor and Head of Community Medicine at Dr DY Patil Medical College, Pune, Dr (Prof) Amitav Banerjee said: “As far as the new strain of Covid-19 is concerned, it’s good for us Indians to follow our own data based on the emerging cases, and do research and not rely on the western data and rate of occurrence there. Less virulent strains spread wide, bringing asymptomatic and mild cases wherein herd immunity can develop faster.”

President of the Indian Public Health Association Dr (Prof) Sanjay Rai said, “There is no need to panic about the new strain of Covid-19. It’s not virulent as per the reports. Over a period of time, our natural immunity will also protect us.”

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