Mumbai: As many as eight returnees to Maharashtra from the UK have been found to be infected with the new COVID-19 variant detected in the European country, state health minister Rajesh Tope said on Monday. Of these, five are from Mumbai, he said, adding that contacts of all the COVID-19 patients with the UK strain are being traced.Also Read - Over 12 Nursing Students Test COVID Positive In Bengaluru, 11 Of Them Fully Vaccinated

“Out of 4,000 returnees from the UK, 43 people have tested positive for COVID-19, out of which eight have the new variant,” Tope said in a televised message, citing results of their swab samples. Also Read - New Coronavirus Variant May Be More Infectious Than Delta: Top 10 Points to Know About The New Covid Strain

“The protocol to treat them is different and they have been isolated from the other COVID-19 patients,” he said. Also Read - South Africa Detects New Covid-19 Variant With Multiple Mutations | Details

The new coronavirus variant found in the UK is said to 70 per cent more infectious than the first one.

Out of the eight, five are from Mumbai and one each from Pune, Thane and Mira Bhayandar. The contact tracing of these patients is going on, Tope said.

Meanwhile, CM Uddhav Thackeray has decided to request the Centre to quarantine passengers arriving from the United Kingdom at other international airports in the country, said Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Office in a statement.

“It has been brought to the notice of government that due to strict quarantine rules for UK returnees in Maharashtra, people returning from UK are taking flights to airports outside the state. Later they travel to Mumbai to avoid quarantine,” said the CMO.

“Asymptomatic patients have been advised 14-day strict quarantine while those with compromised immunity such as (people with) diabetes and high blood pressure, among others, 21 days of quarantine,” said the state health minister.

The government has decided to treat the patients with symptoms till they get cured. We need to strictly follow COVID-19-appropriate behaviour such as frequently washing hands, use of masks and avoiding crowded places, Tope said.

(With inputs from agencies)