State government has confirmed that genome sequencing by National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune has found four people who tested Covid-19 positive after landing at the Ahmedabad airport to be carrying the UK strain. Named VUI-202012/01 or 'variant under investigation in December 2020', the strain found its entry from a London-Ahmedabad flight on December 22 via four residents.
Confirming the news, Gujarat deputy chief minister and health minister Nitin Patel said that the all precautions are being taken by the medical teams and administration to cure them and prevent further spread of the highly infectious strain.
All the four patients tested positive in RT-PCR test and were directly taken to the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (SVP) hospital in Ahmedabad where they are admitted for the past 11 days. The strain is defined as a set of 17 changes or mutations and has been termed as more infectious albeit not more virulent or deadly by health experts.
According to Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) sources, no change in the course of treatment is being made as of now given the mild symptoms. The four patients with the new UK strain are kept in a separate ward at the hospital, amid lack of any major health complications so far.
Apparently, two repeat samples of the 55 passengers from the UK who are in Ahmedabad have been taken even as they are being monitored for any viral traces or clinical symptoms.
As such, there are clear SOPs issued by the Government of India about treatment and observation of such patients which are being followed, said health department officials.
Results for another 15 samples sent to NIV Pune are awaited. According to authorities, finding the strain requires genome sequencing of the virus which takes more time than the regular procedures. However, all who returned from the UK and other European countries recently are under observation.
Meanwhile, Gujarat has shown steady decline in the infections. According to the state health department's data, during the 24 hours ended on January 1, the state added 734 new Covid-19 cases and three deaths. The total number of active cases in the state is reported at 9663 with 4309 people succumbing to the virus. Total recoveries in Gujarat stand at 231,000.