India reports 20,036 new COVID-19 cases, 256 deaths

Sunday, 03 Jan, 2021

Health authorities said testing people who have specifically returned from the United Kingdom may not be enough as the new Covid strain has also spread in many other countries like Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, and Sweden.

Besides, all passengers who have travelled to India since November 23 are also under close watch and will be now tested in their states. "The situation is under careful watch and regular advice is being provided to the States for enhanced surveillance, containment, testing & dispatch of samples to INSACOG labs", the ministry said.

Dr. Henry Walke, incident manager at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 response, said "because the variant spreads more rapidly, they could lead to more cases and put even more strain on our heavily burdened health care systems".

Notably, no country has yet reported successful isolation and culture of the UK-variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Even as more passengers, who entered India from United Kingdom in the month before flight ban are being traced and tested, flight operations between the two countries will resume from January 8, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri informed on Friday. The total number of active cases in the state now stands at 65,381.

The new SARS-CoV-2 variant could be as much as 70 percent more transmissible, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.

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In response, the government activated one of its Nightingale Hospitals - created to deal exclusively with Covid-19 patients, thereby taking the pressure off overburdened hospitals - in London on December 31.

A pan-India dry run to check the best way to vaccinate people against COVID-19 and plug loopholes in logistics and training will be held today. The Philippines and Turkey recently imposed travel bans.

The COVID-19 active caseload remained below 3 lakh for the tenth consecutive day. Its death rate also continues to go up.

Indian authorities were trying Wednesday to track down tens of thousands of people who entered the country from Britain in recent weeks as cases of a new and fast-spreading coronavirus variant more than doubled in 24 hours.