New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry has called an emergency meeting of its Joint Monitoring Group on Monday to discuss the emergence of a mutated variant of the coronavirus in the UK, which has led to a surge in the infection rate there. The urgent meeting was announced soon after the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the new strain of the coronavirus is “out of control”. Also Read - 1,000 Doses of Covishield Vaccine Found 'Frozen', Damaged in Assam

According to a source, 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. Also Read - IND vs AUS: Cricket Australia Writes Open Letter to BCCI, Says 'Will Never Forget The Sacrifices' | Read Full Letter

“As far as India is concerned, there is no major change or mutation in the Covid strain yet. We are studying strains of coronavirus very closely in our country. But, yes, we also keep a track of whatever is happening in the world related to the variants of COVID-19 strain,” said the official. Also Read - Coronavirus Vaccine Side-Effects: Bharat Biotech Warns People Against Taking Covaxin 'IF'

A number of European countries have also banned flights from the UK as 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 from Sunday.

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)