New Delhi: After 20 passengers from the UK tested positive for COVID-19, the Central government on Tuesday issued a stringent set of SOPs mandating RT-PCR tests at airports for each traveller from the country and isolation in a separate unit of an institutional facility for positive cases in view of the new coronavirus strain. On the other hand, NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul said there is no need to panic but there is cause to be more vigilant. “We are yet to spot such a virus in our country. We will be safe if we suppress the genomic sequence,” Paul said. Also Read - Why no Vaccine For Pregnant Women? What Should an Expecting Mom do to Fight COVID-19 in Absence of Vaccine - All Your Questions Answered 

Of the 20 that tested positive for coronavirus, six were on a flight that landed in Delhi at 11.30 PM on Monday, two on a flight that came into Kolkata on Sunday night, four that arrived in Ahmedabad on Tuesday and eight, including a crew member, in Amritsar who also reached today. All were direct Air India flights from London. Also Read - Delhi Government Extends COVID Guidelines for UK Returnees Till January 31

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As per the SOPs from the Centre, those testing positive will be isolated in a separate unit of an institutional facility. In Kolkata, a West Bengal Health and Family Welfare Department official said those sitting near the two passengers who were positive will be told to be in home isolation for two weeks.

The SOPs from the Health Ministry described the activities to be undertaken at the point of entry and in the community for all flyers who have travelled from or transited through the UK from November 25 to December 23. It stated that all travellers from the UK will be required to declare their travel history of the past 14 days and fill up a self-declaration form to be screened for COVID-19.

Compulsory RT-PCR test

All passengers coming from the UK from December 21 to 23 would also be subjected to RT-PCRs test on arrival and this has to be ensured by respective state governments, the SOP stated. Those found negative at the airport would be advised quarantine at home and followed up.

It also stated that State authorities would be responsible for earmarking specific facilities isolation and treatment of positive patients.

No mutation found in India yet

Dr V K Paul also said the mutated SARS-CoV-2 strain detected in the UK will have no impact on the potential of emerging vaccines which are being developed in India and other countries. He further added that “this new challenge, we have to counter with our comprehensive efforts”.

He also said that there is no change in the treatment guidelines so far due to this mutation and the vaccines that are being developed, particularly those in the country, will not be impacted.

Maharashtra issues SOPs

The Maharashtra government has come out with a standard operating protocol (SOP) for dealing with passengers arriving from Europe, South Africa and the Middle-East amid concerns over the detection of a new variant of coronavirus in the UK.

All passengers coming from these countries shall undergo mandatory paid institutional quarantine of 14 days on arrival, a government circular said on Monday. No passenger arrived on flights from these countries will be allowed to opt for home quarantine,

Screening mandatory in Odisha

The Odisha government also asked authorities concerned to undertake mandatory screening of persons with travel history to the United Kingdom after the faster spreading new COVID-19 strain was reported in that country.

Additional Chief Secretary P K Mohapatra in a letter directed that passengers with travel history to the UK be advised to be in mandatory home quarantine for 14 days with self monitoring and periodic monitoring by the Rapid Response Team.

(With inputs from agencies)