A file photo of a health worker collecting a swab sample from a shopper for Covid-19 coronavirus testing in New Delhi. Photograph:( AFP )
India's COVID-19 national task force held a meeting on Saturday to discuss the new strains of coronavirus, first of which was spotted in the United Kingdom
India's COVID-19 national task force held a meeting on Saturday to discuss the new strains of coronavirus, first of which was spotted in the United Kingdom.
They discussed strategies to detect and contain the new variant, which is more contagious than the first, which showed up in Wuhan first.
Over 50 samples of people who returned from the UK are being sequenced across six labs in the country to identify the mutant strain. Officers from the force are also identifying people who have arrived into the country from UK in the last month.
Besides checking people returning from the UK for the strain, the task force also stressed on the need to survey samples of 5 per cent positive cases from all states and union territories for genome sequencing.
Under the leadership of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), a consortium for genomic surveillance called INSACOG has been formed. It will survey the strains of SARS-CoV-2 that are circulating in the country.
"It is important to understand that like all other RNA viruses, SARS-CoV-2 will continue to mutate. The mutated virus can also be contained by measures like social distancing, hand hygiene, wearing masks and also by an effective vaccine, as and when available”, the statement said.
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The meeting was headed by NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul, along with Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research - Dr Balram Bhargava. It also included members of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) along with top officials with the health ministry.
The number of cases in India have been dropping steadily in the last few weeks, after witnessing a peak in September. Even then, India has the world’s second highest number of infections, trailing just behind the United States. After a new strain appeared in the UK, countries banned travel to and from the country in a bid to prevent another outbreak, considering the new strain is more infectious.