It would be incorrect to say that the mutated COVID-19 strain has entered India until it's established by a designated laboratory, the union health ministry said in order to alleviate fear among the people about the new UK's variant.
According to the ministry, to establish the presence of a mutant virus, it is necessary to establish genome sequencing. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Department of Biotechnology, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and National Centre for Disease Control are the bodies that are designated for such tasks.
The ministry added, so far genome sequencing has not been done in respect of the 15 passengers of the 590 who landed in Mumbai from the UK on December 22. "Therefore, it's incorrect to say that the new strain of the coronavirus has entered India until it is established by a designated laboratory," the ministry said.
This week, NITI Aayog member (health) Dr V K Paul also said that there was no need to panic over the mutated variant of SARS-CoV-2. Paul said the mutated strain detected in the UK will have no impact on the potential of emerging vaccines.
"As of now, based on our discussions, deep understanding of data available and our deep assessment, there is no need to panic but it is a cause to be more vigilant," he said.
So far at least 20 air passengers from the United Kingdom have tested positive for coronavirus in India. The swab samples of infected patients have been sent to Pune's National Institute of Virology, in order to check if anyone had been infected from a different virus strain.
Yesterday, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan reviewed the status of travellers coming from the UK to India who were found COVID-19 positive before the temporary flight bans came into effect from December 23.
The states for which the detailed review was carried out included Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Goa, Punjab, Gujarat and Kerala.