The Department of Health convened a meeting of its joint monitoring group on COVID-19 tomorrow to discuss a mutant coronavirus that has spread rapidly in the UK. Several European nations have banned flights to and from the UK. India has not made a political decision on a flight ban from the UK, but the matter is under serious consideration, said people with direct knowledge of the matter.
The UK has warned that this new strain of coronavirus is “out of control” and has imposed a tough new home ban starting Sunday.
The joint monitoring group, chaired by the Director General for Health Services (DGHS), will meet around 10 a.m. tomorrow to discuss the mutated variant of the coronavirus reported from the UK, government sources said.
The Indian representative of the World Health Organization, Roderico H. Ofrin, who is also a member of the monitoring group, is likely to attend the meeting.
The Netherlands have issued a flight ban for Great Britain and Belgium has announced that it will follow suit. Germany was also considering a similar move as a “serious option” for flights from Great Britain and South Africa, where another variant was discovered, reported the AFP news agency.
Italy will join the ban to protect its citizens, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on Facebook, without indicating when the measures would take effect. The Austrian Ministry of Health informed the APA news agency that it would also impose a flight ban, the details of which are still being worked out.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned Sunday that tough measures, which affect nearly a third of the UK population, could remain in place until the viral vaccine is fully implemented. “We acted very quickly and decisively,” Hancock told Sky News, explaining the “stay at home” order, the ban on family gatherings over Christmas and the closure of non-essential businesses. “Unfortunately the new strain was out of control. We have to get it under control.”
The mutation in the coronavirus worries scientists around the world as drug companies are still in the early stages of introducing vaccines.
Scientists first discovered the new variant, which they believe is 70 percent more transmissible, in a patient in September. And Public Health England, a government agency, raised the alarm on Friday when the modeling revealed the full seriousness of the new strain.
UK Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty noted that while the new strain is far more contagious, “there is currently no evidence that it causes a higher death rate or affects vaccines and treatments, although urgent work is being done to confirm this . ” “Reported AFP.
India added 26,624 coronavirus infections in a 24-hour period today, bringing the figure to 1,00,31,223 according to the Ministry of Health. The number of new infections is 5.8 percent higher than on Saturday, when the country registered 25,152 cases, bringing the total number of infections above a crore mark.
With inputs from AFP