New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry on Monday assured that there is no need to panic over the emergence of a mutated variant of the COVID-19 in the UK as the Government of India is on alert over the new virus strain. Also Read - New Coronavirus Strain: Arvind Kejriwal, Ashok Gehlot Demand Ban on All Flights From UK

“The government is fully alert. There is no need to panic,” Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said while addressing a press conference. Also Read - Canada Halts Flights From UK For 72 Hours Amid Fears of New Coronavirus Strain

“I would say this to all that all these imaginary situations, imaginary talks, imaginary panic… don’t involve yourself in this,” Vardhan said while responding to a question on the panic over the new strain and a demand to ban flights from the UK. Also Read - Health Ministry Calls Urgent Meeting Today To Discuss New Coronavirus Strain In UK

“The government is fully conscious about everything. If you ask me, there is no reason to panic the way we are seeing in this press conference,” the health minister added.

The government’s statement comes after it called an urgent meeting of its Joint Monitoring Group on Monday to discuss the new coronavirus strain.

“The Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) chaired by the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) will hold a meeting on Monday morning to discuss the issue of the mutated variant of the coronavirus reported from the UK. WHO’s India representative Dr Roderico H Ofrin, who is also a member of the JMG, is likely to participate in the meeting,” a source said on Sunday.

A number of countries have banned flights from the UK since the British government warned that the potent new strain of the virus was “out of control” and imposed a stringent new stay-at-home lockdown.

A surge in the infection rate caused by the new variant of the coronavirus has led to millions entering a stringent new stay-at-home lockdown in the UK from Sunday, with non-essential shops and businesses now closed.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new rules at a briefing from 10 Downing Street on Saturday evening, which means a planned five-day Christmas bubble of relaxed rules has been cancelled in favour of a new Tier 4 level to the current three-tier lockdown system to try and control the surge in infections being caused by the new mutation of the deadly virus.

“It seems that the spread is now being driven by the new variant of the virus, Johnson said.

We have alerted the World Health Organisation and are continuing to analyse the available data to improve our understanding, said Professor Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England.

There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is underway to confirm this, he said.

(With agency inputs)