India has extended the suspension of UK flights till January 7. The suspension of flights to and from the UK was earlier till December 31. "A decision has been taken to extend the temporary suspension of flights to and from the United Kingdom till January 7," said Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. This development comes amid reports of 14 new cases of the new COVID-19 strain in India, taking the number to 20. The new coronavirus strain that has now been detected in several countries is believed to be 70 per cent more infectious.
The aviation minister had said on Tuesday that a small extension was possible. During a press conference, Puri said, "We have started applying our minds on the flight ban. I can only see now that there may be a slight extension in the deadline. I, however, do not see a long or indefinite extension. It may be a small extension."
Meanwhile, six people with the new coronavirus strain were detected in the country on Tuesday. But Wednesday morning, the number had soared to 20. The government had said that from November 25 till December 23, around 33,000 passengers reached India from the UK at various airports. All of them are being tracked and subjected to RT-PCR tests by the states and UTs. Out of them 114 have tested positive. Their samples have been sent for further testing for genome sequencing. Thereafter, six people were found with the new mutant coronavirus strain.
The government said that the situation is under careful watch and regular advice is being communicated to the states regarding surveillance, containment, testing and dispatch of samples to INSACOG labs.
Even so, according to reports a woman who returned from the UK escaped from the Delhi airport and boarded a Visakhapatnam-bound train. She switched off her phone and could not be tracked. She was eventually tracked down and has tested positive for the new strain.