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Opinion

UK virus strain in India: 14 more test positive, 20 cases so far

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The total number of people who have tested positive for the new UK Sars-CoV-2 virus genome variant has reached 20, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced on Wednesday, based on the results of the sequencing. of the genome of the positive samples published by India. Laboratories of the Sars-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (Insacog).

So far, the samples have been sequenced in seven of the 10 designated labs across the country: seven samples tested positive at NIMHANS, Bengaluru, two at CCMB, Hyderabad and one at NIV, Pune, eight at NCDC, Delhi, one at IGIB , Delhi and one in NIBG, Kalyani (West Bengal).

The health ministry had announced on Tuesday that six returnees from the UK had tested positive for the variant.

All infected people are now isolated, the Health Ministry said in a statement, adding that their fellow travelers and close contacts are being tracked and quarantined. Genome sequencing is currently being carried out on other samples.

“All of these people have been kept in single room isolation in health care facilities designated by the respective state governments and their close contacts have also been quarantined,” the union ministry said.

Also read: Where is India in the global spread of Covid-19

From November 25 to midnight December 23, 2020, approximately 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK.

All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by the states to RT-PCR tests.

The 10 designated Insacog laboratories are: NIBMG Kolkata, ILS Bhubaneswar, NIV Pune, CCS Pune, CCMB Hyderabad, CDFD Hyderabad, InSTEM Bengaluru, NIMHANS Bengaluru, IGIB Delhi, NCDC Delhi.

“The situation is under careful monitoring and regular advice is being provided to states to improve surveillance, containment, testing, and sending samples to Insacog laboratories,” the Health Ministry statement said.

Denmark, Holland, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore have already reported the presence of the new UK variant so far.

First detected in London and Kent in mid-September, the variant was identified by UK authorities as a cause for concern on December 14. They later revealed evidence that it appeared to be more transmissible and was behind an increase in cases in the country’s capital. as well as its southeast.

The variant has 23 changes in its genome, eight of which appear to influence the spike protein that the pathogen uses to adhere to host cells. Some of the other changes could make it more adept at infecting susceptible cells and possibly even evading some immune response, although detailed studies are underway.

In a preliminary assessment published late on Monday, UK scientists estimated that the new variant did not cause more deaths or hospitalizations, but did cause markedly more secondary infections than the previous variant.

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