UK variant sparks concern even as India’s fresh COVID-19 cases decline

UK variant sparks concern even as India’s fresh COVID-19 cases decline

India has reported 14 fresh cases of new coronavirus mutant strain, initially identified in the UK, which adds up to 20 such cases in the country so far, confirmed the health ministry on Wednesday morning.

The new strain reported to be significantly more transmissible has been spreading fast across the world amid global fears and new travel restrictions after the UK said earlier this month the virus was “out of control”.

The nation had reported six cases on Tuesday. Of the 20 cases of fresh strain, eight have been registered by a Delhi lab; a Bengaluru lab has recorded seven cases.

India had temporarily banned flights from the UK. While 33,000 passengers, who’ve arrived from the UK between November 25 and December 23, are being traced, the government has said.

Genome sequencing will also be conducted on all international passengers who were symptomatic and tested positive for coronavirus in the 14 days from December 9 to 22.

“It is easy to suppress the virus in the initial stage. Once the transmission is too widespread, it is hard to control,” Dr VK Paul, a member of Niti Aayog, said at the health ministry briefing on Tuesday.

India has been witnessing a drop in the cases after a peak observed in September. The country has recorded over 1,02,45,326 coronavirus cases so far, and 1,48,475 deaths linked to the infection.

On Tuesday, the nation reported 20,529 new infections. The active cases stood at 2,60,678. As many as 26,572 recoveries and 285 new deaths has been reported yesterday.

Kerala reported the highest daily new COVID cases at 5,887. The total confirmed cases in the state stand at 7,49,451 as of now. The active infections stand at 64,860. As many as 5,029 patients saw recovery and 24 patients lost lives to the infection so far.

Followed by Kerala, Maharashtra reported 3,018 new COVID-19 cases while 5,572 patients saw a recovery on Tuesday. As per the state health department figures, the active case tally has now come down to 54,537 in the state while the total case tally stands at 19,25,066. With 68 fatalities, the total death toll climbed to 49,373. The state’s recovery rate has risen to 94.54%.

The new virus strain has sparked concerns at a time when India awaits a vaccine for the highly infectious disease.

The health ministry on Tuesday said existing coronavirus vaccines will work against mutated strains. “There is no evidence current vaccines will fail to protect against COVID-19 variants from the UK or South Africa,” Professor K VijayRaghavan, the government’s Principal Scientific Adviser, said.

Three vaccine makers – Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute of India and Pfizer – earlier this month applied to the drug controller for emergency use.