COVID-19 strain: UK flight ban extended till January 7
The Government of India on Wednesday has extended the suspension of flights to and from the United Kingdom till January 7 amid rising concerns over the new, highly contagious strain of COVID-19,
Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted, "Decision has been taken to extend the temporary suspension of flights to and from the UK till 7 January 2021. Thereafter strictly regulated resumption will take place for which details will be announced shortly." Previously, India had banned UK flights from December 23 till December 31.
The health ministry stated that 20 people who returned to India from Britain had tested positive for the new UK variant genome of SARS-CoV-2 so far.
On Tuesday, it informed that six cases of the new variant were detected among the passengers who travelled back to India from the UK between November 25 and December 23. Of these, three were tested in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, two in Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, and one in National Institute of Virology, Pune.
The health ministry added that comprehensive contact tracing was initiated for co-travellers, family contacts, and others and even genome sequencing on other specimens is also ongoing.
Although not much is known about the new strain, experts believe that the current vaccines should still be effective against it. This mutant strain was first detected in southeast England in September. It then soon became the dominant strain in London and other parts of the UK.
Cases of the new mutated strain of the virus have already been reported in Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon, and Singapore.