Karnataka tests passengers from UK for new virus strain

Karnataka begins testing passengers from UK for new coronavirus strain

The samples of those who Covid positive passengers will be sent to a special genotyping lab at Nimhans to verify if they are carrying the new strain of virus

The state government has started testing international airline arrivals from the United Kingdom in a bid to stop the possible transmission of a new mutated strain of the Sars-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19.

The Additional Chief Secretary Jawaid Akhtar told DH that the government was collecting the passenger manifests of all flights from the UK to Karnataka over the last 14 days, to track down the individuals. 

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“We have started testing 138 out of the 587 individuals who arrived on two flights on Monday. These are people who did not have an RT-PCR test done 72 hours prior to boarding the flights,” Akhtar explained.

The Additional Chief Secretary added that the samples of those who test positive for Covid-19 will be sent to a special genotyping lab set up at Nimhans to verify if any of the new arrivals are carrying the new mutated strain of the virus.

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The challenge of verifying that the mutated strain, classified by the UK government as the Sars-CoV-2 202012/01 has been exacerbated by the fact that the virus could have landed in the state earlier in the month or in November. 

While the noted epidemiologist Dr Giridhar Babu said that containment measures are fraught with uncertainty, the fact that there has not been a spike in cases in Karnataka, suggests either that the new version of the virus has not set down in Karnataka or that the state testing mechanism has missed a cluster.