These 6 patients had travelled from UK between November 25 to December 23 Credit: Representational image

Six persons who returned from the UK have found positive with the new UK-variant genome of COVID-19, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

The patients are among 33,000 passengers who disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK between November 25 and December 23.

A total of 144 people tested positive for COVID-19, and their samples sent for genome sequencing across 10 Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) labs. Of these, three were tested in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, two in Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology, Hyderabad and one in National Institute of Virology, Pune.

All these persons have been kept in single-room isolation in designated healthcare facilities by respective state governments. Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine.

The health ministry added that comprehensive contact tracing was initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others of the positive patients, and genome sequencing on other specimens is going on.

The situation is under watch, and regular advice is being provided to the States for enhanced surveillance, containment, testing & dispatch of samples to INSACOG labs.

To prevent the spread of the UK variant, the Centre has taken several steps including temporary suspension of all flights coming from the UK with effect from the midnight of December 23 to 31.

Also, mandatory testing is being carried out on all UK returnee air passengers through RT-PCR. Further, the samples of all UK returnees found positive in RT-PCR test is being sent for genome sequencing by a consortium of 10 govt labs i.e. INSACOG.

On December 26, a meeting of the National Task Force (NTF) on Covid-19 was held to consider and recommend testing, treatment, surveillance and containment strategy. New standard operating protocols (SOP) have been put in place to tackle the mutant variant.

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