Hyderabad: Even as various vaccines are rolling out for the dangerous SARS-COV 2 in different parts of the world, a new mutated variant of the virus was found in the United Kingdom spreading panic globally. According to the European Centre for Disease Control, the new variant of the virus – Variant Under Investigation (VUI)-20212/01 is more transmissible and is affecting more younger people than the earlier virus.
This new variant has been identified as a set of multiple changes and mutations in the ‘Spike’ protein which the SARS-CoV 2 uses to infect human cells. One of the most significant mutations ‘N501Y’ in an area of the ‘Spike’ protein which plays a crucial role in penetrating host cells and initiating infections increases the risk of faster infection and higher transmission rates when compared to the other variants of the virus.
The new variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in September and it is said that around 1/4th of the cases reported in London in the month of November are linked to this variant. Italy and Australia have also reported to the World Health Organisation saying that they have identified patients infected by the mutant strain of the virus.
In a quick response, flights from the UK have been suspended till December 31, commencing from Tuesday, December 22.
Taking cognizance of the situation in the UK, India has issued new SOPs that need to be undertaken for all the international passengers who have travelled from or transited from UK in the past 4 weeks (From November 25 to December 23).
All the travelers, who fall in the category of the above mentioned scope will be required to go through RT-PCR tests only. They will have to declare their travel history of the past 14 days and fill up Self Declaration Forms.
In case of a passenger testing positive, a spike gene-bases RT-PCR test will be conducted on him/her by an appropriate laboratory. Those who test negative in the RT-PCR test will be asked to self-isolation for 14 days at home and tested again as per ICMR guidelines. The State governments will be intimated about the infected patients as the monitoring of will be done by the respected State governments.
The Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the government was on alert about the new strain of coronavirus and urged people not to panic.
Public Health England (PHE) has announced that the data they have does suggest an increase in transmission but there was no evidence suggesting that the mutation will cause severe Covid-19 infections. Some scientists, in fact claim that mutations of viruses is natural in any virus.
However, an increase in the number of infections may cause a flutter at healthcare centres as more patients will be coming for treatment.
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