On account of a new fast-spreading strain of the coronavirus in the UK, the Indian Government today banned flights from the UK till December 31. The ban will come into effect from Wednesday and all travellers coming from the UK before Wednesday will have to go under a covid test at airports. According to Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, the new version of the virus had a strangely large number of genetic changes. He further stated that there was a need for better epidemiological surveillance, greater containment and other steps to efficiently confront the challenge.
At the airport, travellers coming from Britain before midnight tomorrow will have to go for RT-PCR tests. Passengers who test positive will have to go for institutional quarantine while the remaining will be asked to home-isolate for seven days. Due to the new strain, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and many European countries have put off flights from the UK. The new strain is said to be 70% more infectious. According to British Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the new variant is out of control. As per experts, current vaccines should still be effective against it.
The UK is habitat to an enormous Indian diaspora and many flights take hundreds of people every day between London and New Delhi and London and Mumbai. As of now, India does not direct institutional quarantine for international travellers if they have a negative COVID-19 test result 72 hours before entering the country. In September this year, the mutant virus was first noticed in southeast England.