India extends ban on flights from UK till January 7, as 20 air passengers test positive for new COVID-19 strain

The Indian Government had earlier suspended all flights connecting the United Kingdom till December 31.


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India on Wednesday extended the suspension of flights to and from the United Kingdom till January 7, 2021 amid concerns over the new strain of the coronavirus.

"Decision has been taken to extend the temporary suspension of flights to & from the UK till 7 January 2021. Thereafter strictly regulated resumption will take place for which details will be announced shortly," Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri posted on Twitter.

The development came after 20 people, who returned to India from the UK, tested positive for the new UK variant genome of SARS-CoV-2. On Tuesday, six returnees from the UK tested positive for the new strain of COVID-19, which is 70 per cent more infectious, the Union Health Ministry stated.

Following the news of the new variant in the UK, the Indian Government on December 23 suspended all flights connecting the United Kingdom till December 31.

As per the updates by the Union Health Ministry, eight samples of the new COVID strain have been confirmed at the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Delhi;  seven at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences Hospital (NIMHANS), Bengaluru; two at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad; and one each at the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani (near Kolkata); National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune; and at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi.

"Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on. The situation is under careful watch and regular advice is being provided to the States for enhanced surveillance, containment, testing & dispatch of samples to INSACOG labs, the ministry had said.

Around 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK from November 25 and December 23 midnight, the Ministry had said.

Meanwhile, India's COVID-19 caseload has reached 1,02,44,852, including 2,62,272 active cases, 98,34,141 recoveries and 1,48,439 deaths.

India’s total active caseload consists of just 2.56 per cent of the country's total positive cases, the Union Health Ministry said.

A total 20,549 persons tested COVID-19 while 26,572 new recoveries were registered on Wednesday, the ministry said, while adding that the national recovery rate has improved to 95.99 per cent.

India recorded 286 new fatalities on Wednesday. Maharashtra saw the maximum casualties of 68. West Bengal and Delhi follow with 30 and 28 daily deaths, respectively, the ministry added.

ALSO READ:  Six UK returnees test positive for new COVID-19 strain

First Published:Dec. 30, 2020, 2:22 p.m.

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