Suspecting possibility of a new mutated variant of the Covid-19 virus, the Nagpur Municipal Corporation sent samples of a 28-year-old infected man to National Institute of Virology, Pune, on Wednesday to check whether the viral genome sequencing resembles the mutated strain B.1.1.7 lineage reported in the UK.
Health officials said the man had returned from the UK on November 29. He developed fever and other symptoms of Covid-19 in early December and tested positive on December 14. He remains under home isolation and four of his family members are quarantined. “He is stable and has mild symptoms. But since he returned from the UK, we suspect he may be infected by the mutated virus,” said Dr Narendra Bahirwar, medical officer in Nagpur corporation. The B.1.1.7 lineage is a more infectious variant of SARS-CoV-2, it is associated with faster transmission rates with at least 3,100 cases of the variant recorded across the UK through genome sequencing.
India as a precaution against the new strain has suspended flights from the UK till December 31 and started screening all UK return passengers at airports since the last two days. “There is no reason to panic. The mutated strain is so far not associated with severe outcomes. We are waiting for more data, but we don’t believe the already exposed population is at further risk of another infection. Immunity against Covid-19 in recovered patients should work against the variant,” said state epidemiologist Dr Pradeep Awate.
Awate said they have undertaken citizen surveillance to ensure there is no spike in transmission. Maharashtra continues to show a downward trend in Covid-19 cases with active caseload at over 54,000.