Home / News / India /  Air India pilots ask management for details of new Covid strain found in UK

New Delhi: Air India pilots on Tuesday have demanded the airline’s management to provide them with details of the "distinct Phylogenetic cluster of Sars-CoV-2" that has been discovered in the United Kingdom (UK). They demanded that "the company procure information from labs and promptly inform all pilots who have tested Covid-19 positive and pilots who may test positive in future if they're infected with this deadlier variant".

In a letter to its director of operations on Tuesday, the pilots pointed out that Air India, from the beginning of the pandemic, has taken the lead on relief missions, ferrying essential cargo, and operating evacuation and repatriation flights across the globe.

"The pilots of Air India, Air India Express and Alliance Air have operated flights even to the ravaged epicenters of Covid-19 infestation without hesitation," the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association wrote to Air India Director (Operations).

According to health experts, the new coronavirus variant can be transmitted 70% faster and officials in UK said it is 'out of control'.

The letter read, “The company is duty-bound to procure and disseminate information pertaining to Covid-19. In this regard, we demand that the company procure information from the labs and promptly inform all pilots who have tested positive as well as pilots who may test positive in the future if they are infected with this deadlier variant of Sars-CoV-2.

“We demand this in the interest of the country, the frontline workers of Air India and their families to ensure that this deadlier lineage does not get a foothold into our homes. We are hopeful that the company and the government will not hesitate in promptly providing this crucial information."

Meanwhile, Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Labs on Tuesday released initial results of Genome sequencing of mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2.

"From 25th November to 23rd December 2020 midnight, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from UK. All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by States/UTs to RT-PCR tests. So far only 114 have been found positive. These positive samples have been sent to 10 INSACOG labs (NIBMG Kolkata, ILS Bhubaneswar, NIV Pune, CCS Pune, CCMB Hyderabad, CDFD Hyderabad, InSTEM Bengaluru, NIMHANS Bengaluru, IGIB Delhi, NCDC Delhi) for genome sequencing," said Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

A total of 6 samples of 6 UK returnee persons have been found to be positive with the new UK variant genome. 3 in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, 2 in CCMB, Hyderabad and 1 in NIV, Pune.

"All these persons have been kept in single room isolation in designated Health Care facilities by 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. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on," the ministry said in an official statement.

The situation is under careful watch and regular advice is being provided to the States for enhanced surveillance, containment, testing and dispatch of samples to INSACOG labs, said the ministry.

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


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