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India finds six cases of new coronavirus variant in UK arrivals

By Reuters | December 29th 2020 at 08:18:53 GMT +0300

FILE PHOTO: Passengers wearing protective face masks leave upon arrival at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport after India cancelled all flights from the UK over fears of a new variant of the coronavirus disease, in Mumbai, India, December 22, 2020. [Reuters]

India has found six people who returned from Britain in recent weeks infected with a more infectious strain of the coronavirus that has prompted a wave of panic and border closures around the world. 

All six patients have been kept in isolation, the health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday, adding that their fellow travellers were being tracked down. 

“Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine,” the ministry said.

India has suspended all flights from Britain until the end of the month but about 33,000 passengers had flown in from late November before the ban came into place, the ministry said.

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Of those arrivals, 114 people were found positive for the coronavirus and their samples were being checked for the new variant, which has been detected across parts of Europe and Asia, the ministry said.

India on Tuesday reported 16,432 new cases of the virus, taking its total up to 10.22 million confirmed infections and 148,153 deaths.

The country has the second-highest caseload in the world, behind only the United States. Health authorities expect to start a vaccination drive for some 300 million people early next month.

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