After six people returning from UK were found infected with the new COVID-19 variant, the Centre has asked for genome sequencing to be conducted on all symptomatic international passengers who had tested positive for coronavirus after arriving in India between December 9 and 22.
INSACOG, a genomic surveillance consortium of 10 laboratories across the country, has begun work on the genome sequencing, the government said.
The 10 laborotaries include NIBMG Kolkata, ILS Bhubaneswar, NIV Pune, CCS Pune, CCMB Hyderabad, CDFD Hyderabad, InSTEM Bengaluru, NIMHANS Bengaluru, IGIB Delhi, and NCDC Delhi.
Reports said the government is taking steps to control the spread of the new strain.
“It is easy to suppress the virus in the starting. Once the transmission is too widespread, it is hard to control,” Dr VK Paul, a member of Niti Aayog, said at the health ministry briefing.
The new strain, detected in the UK, is said to be 70 per cent more infectious. It has spread to Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon, Singapore, and now India.
Amid concerns that certain vulnerable sections may be at more risk in getting infected by the virulent strain, doctors have said there is no evidence as yet that the new strain leads to more deaths and scientists have said it will not affect the effectiveness of vaccines.