New Delhi: Total 14 fresh cases of the new coronavirus variant have been reported in India on Wednesday taking the overall tally to 20 cases so far in the country. And, as per reports, out of the total 20 cases of the new mutant coronavirus strain, eight are from the national capital and seven from Bengaluru. All 20 individuals who have tested positive have recently returned from the United Kingdom. Also Read - Massive Vaccination Drive To Start On January 16, Know How Coronavirus Vaccines Transported, Stored

This new COVID strain which was first discovered in the United Kingdom in September, is said to be 70% more transmissible from the novel coronavirus disease and has prompted a wave of panic, travel bans and border closures worldwide. Also Read - Delhi Vaccination Drive to be Held at 81 Centres, Four Days a Week: CM Arvind Kejriwal

Earlier on Tuesday, India recorded six cases of the new virus variant and all of them recently returned from Britain. According to a government statement, three samples in Bengaluru NIMHANS, two in CCMB, Hyderabad and one in NIV, Pune have been detected out of all the samples tested. Also Read - If Muslims Don't Trust India, They Can Go To Pakistan, Says BJP's Sangeet Som

Among the six UK-returnees found infected by the new strain is a 47-year-old woman who had managed to give the slip to authorities in New Delhi after returning to India on December 21 and had reached Andhra Pradesh by train before being picked up, but the state Health Commissioner stressed that none of her contacts have been found infected.

To keep a check on the situation, the temporary ban on the flights connecting to the United Kingdom could be extended beyond December 31, said Union Minister Hardeep Puri as authorities stressed the need to remain vigilant, noting that though the cases have been declining in India, they are on the rise globally and the new strain detected in the UK had spread to several countries.

At the same time, Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan as well as other experts maintained that so far it has not been found that the new variant increases the severity of the disease.

As it announced the successful completion of the two-day dry-run of vaccination exercise in four states, the government also dismissed apprehensions that the current vaccines may prove ineffective against the new strain.

“There is no evidence that current vaccines will fail to protect against COVID 19 variants reported from the UK or South Africa. Most vaccines do target the Spike protein, in which there are changes in the variants but vaccines stimulate our immune system to produce a wide range of protective antibodies,” Raghavan said.