With six UK-returned passengers testing positive for the new variant of COVID-19, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday (December 29) hinted that the government may extend the temporary ban on flights from Britain beyond the December 31 deadline.
“I foresee a short extension on this temporary suspension. I don’t see the extension to be long or indefinite,” LiveMint quoted Puri as saying.
The Centre on December 21 ordered the suspension of flights coming from Britain – from December 22 to 31 – after a virulent strain of the novel coronavirus was detected in the country. The mutant strain is said to be 70 per cent more transmissible.
The government had also mandated RT-PCR tests on arrival at the airport, for all passengers coming from UK.
Of the six people diagnosed with the mutant variant of COVID-19, three are at NIMHANS, Bengaluru while two are in CCMB, Hyderabad and one in NIV, Pune.
INSACOG Labs which reported the cases said that the infected persons have been kept in single room isolation in the respective hospitals while their close contacts have been put under quarantine. The respective governments have also initiated contact tracing of these patients to avoid the virulent strain from spreading further.
The UK variant has already been reported by Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland and Canada among others.