The passengers, who had come to India on flights from the UK, have been placed in isolation at healthcare facilities

A total of six UK returnee persons have been found to be positive with the new UK COVID-19 variant genome. The mutated UK strain was detected in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, CCMB, Hyderabad and in NIV, Pune, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Tuesday.

All these persons have been kept in single-room isolation in designated health care facilities by the respective state governments. Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine. Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts, and others, the ministry said, adding tha genome sequencing on other specimens is going on.

Taking cognisance of the reports of mutant variant of SARS- CoV-2 virus reported from the UK and putting in place a proactive and preventive strategy to detect and contain the mutant variant, the government had suspended all flights coming from the UK with effect from the midnight of December 23 till December 31, 2020. The government has also ordered a mandatory testing of all the UK returnee air passengers through RT-PCR test.

The presence of the new UK variant has already been reported by Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore, so far, the ministry said.