VIJAYAWADA: A woman from Rajamahendravaram in Andhra Pradesh has been confirmed to have contracted the UK strain of the COVID-19 virus.
The Union Health Ministry, earlier on Tuesday morning, stated that six people who returned to India from the UK have tested positive for the new variant genome of SARS-CoV2.
While the new strain was found in three samples tested at NIMHANS, Bengaluru, it was found in two samples tested at CCMB, Hyderabad and in one sample tested at NIV, Pune.
The Commissioner for Health and Family Welfare Katamneni Bhaskar on Tuesday said the mutated strain was detected in the sample of the woman who returned to Rajamahendravaram from the UK. Though the woman tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus, her son and other contacts have tested negative for both COVID-19 and SARS-CoV2.
Bhaskar said there is no need to panic as there are no indications that the new strain has spread in the state. "We cannot consider that the new strain is spreading in Andhra Pradesh. As on Tuesday, only 12 out of the 1,406 (out of a total of 1,423 who have come back to the state) UK returnees, who were traced, have tested positive for COVID-19 and just one among the 12 has tested positive for the new strain. There is no need to panic as necessary precautions and measures are being taken to prevent the spread. The tracing of contacts of these returnees has also been fast-tracked," he said and added that efforts to trace the remaining 17 returnees are on.
The woman who tested positive for the new strain of the virus had landed in New Delhi from the UK on December 21 and tested positive for COVID-19 in the Rapid Antigen Test conducted by the Delhi Airport Authority. She was shifted to the quarantine facility in the Safdarjung Hospital. The doctors had suggested that she undergo home isolation as she was asymptomatic. However, she took a train to Rajamahendravaram on the morning of December 22 and reached her destination on the midnight of December 23.
Following an alert raised by officials in Delhi, the railway police and local police authorities traced her and her son while they were in the train. They were shifted to the government general hospital directly from the station.
Meanwhile, according to a press release from the Ministry of Health, all those who tested positive for the UK variant have been kept in a single room under isolation in the 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-travelers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on," the statement said
The Union Ministry has also stated that there is no need to change the existing national treatment protocol or testing protocols. The National Task Force (NTF) has also recommended that in addition to the existing surveillance strategy, it is critical to conduct enhanced genome surveillance.