India: Six Cases of New COVID-19 Variant Confirmed

India has confirmed six cases of the new variant of Covid-19, which was first identified in the UK.

Today, officials said six individuals who returned from the UK are being kept in isolation, reports the BBC.

India joined a list of other countries last week in suspending flights to and from the UK.

Experts say that the new variant is considerably “more transmissible” than previous strains, but not necessarily any more dangerous.

Dr A Fathahudeen, a critical care expert who has treated hundreds of Covid-19 patients told the BBC: “The new strain can “cause havoc” and “throw our healthcare system out of control.”

With more than 10M confirmed cases so far, India has the second-highest caseload in the world after the US.

Officials in India have begun contact-tracing close contacts and family members of the six who have tested positive for the new variant, the BBC reports.

An official statement, reports the BBC, said passengers arriving from the UK will undergo RT-PCR tests at all airports in the country. The samples found to be positive will then be genome sequenced by government-run labs in order to detect the new variant.

Around 33,000 passengers arrived in India from the UK over the past month. Of those, 114 were found to be positive for coronavirus – their samples have been sent to ten labs for genome sequencing, according to the statement.

In the UK, health officials have warned that the country’s “very high” Covid infection level is a “growing concern”. On Monday, a record 41,385 Covid cases and 357 deaths were reported in the UK.

Learn more about the SARS-CoV-2 variant here.

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