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New Covid strain: India alert, no need to panic, says Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan.Premium
Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

  • The Union Health Ministry has called an urgent meeting of its Joint Monitoring Group today to discuss the emergence of a mutated variant of the coronavirus in the UK
  • Meanwhile, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has urged the govt to ban all flights from the UK right now over mutant Covid-19 strain

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Monday said that the Central Government is "alert" and scientists are closely keeping an eye on each development about the discovery of the new strain of coronavirus in the United Kingdom.

Harsh Vardhan said the government had done everything that was important to handle the Covid-19 situation in the last one year.

Speaking on the issue of the new Covid-19 strain in the UK, the Union Health Minister said, "There is no need to panic over imaginary situations and descriptions. I don't think, the situation is such to create a panic here, but let me tell you that our scientists are closely keeping eye on every development."

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The Union Health Ministry has called an urgent meeting of its Joint Monitoring Group today to discuss the emergence of a mutated variant of the coronavirus in the UK, which has been identified to be up to 70% more infectious.

The JMG, chaired by the Director-General of Health Services (DGHS), met today to discuss the issue of the mutated variant of Covid-19.

WHO's India representative Dr Roderico H Ofrin, who is also a member of the JMG, was reportedly a part of today's meeting.

Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has urged the Central Government to ban all flights from the United Kingdom immediately over mutant Covid-19 strain.

Taking to Twitter today, Kejriwal wrote, "New mutation of corona virus has emerged in UK, which is a super-spreader. I urge central govt to ban all flights from UK immediately."

How does the new Covid variant act?

1) The virus tends to evolve or mutate quickly, particularly those like flu that require new vaccines to be developed each year because of changes in key proteins.

2) SARS-CoV-2 also changes, although generally at a slower pace than some other viruses because it has a self-correcting mechanism that keeps its genetic sequence relatively stable.

3) Coronavirus case rates nearly doubled in London over the past week, with almost 60% of these infections attributed to the new virus strain.

4) The new strain identified in the UK is up to 70% more infectious but it is not thought to be more deadly and vaccines should still be effective.

5) Scientific evidence says that the new variant can spread significantly more quickly than previous strains in circulation.

Countries that have blocked travel from UK

1) Saudi Arabia halted international flights and closed its borders for one week over fears about the fast-spreading new strain of Covid-19.

2) Canada is halting passenger flights from the United Kingdom for 72 hours, the health ministry said, joining a growing list of countries barring British travelers to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus strain from the country.

3) Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza said that he had signed a decree "which blocks flights from Great Britain and prohibits entry into Italy of people who have stayed there during the last 14 days".

4) Turkey temporarily halted flights from Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands and South Africa after the UK government warned that a new, fast-spreading strain of the coronavirus was "out of control".

5) Germany will halt all air links with the UK from midnight on Sunday, with the ban initially slated to last until December 31, Health Minister Jens Spahn told ARD public television.

6) France said Sunday it will halt all travel from Britain for 48 hours from midnight Sunday including journeys "related to goods transport by road, air, sea or rail".

7) Iran's health ministry has ordered flights from Britain suspended for two weeks, state news agency IRNA reported.

8) Kuwait has added Britain to a list of "high-risk" nations and banned flights.

9) Israel said it was barring entry to foreign citizens travelling from Britain, Denmark and South Africa.

10) Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the country would "temporarily suspend passenger air traffic from the UK for 48 hours".

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization had informed that is in close contact with UK officials over a new virus variant.

In a tweet, WHO revealed: "They'll (UK officials) continue to share info and results of their analysis and ongoing studies. We'll update Member States and public as we learn more about the characteristics of this virus variant and any implications.

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