No case of Nu variant detected at Delhi airport among people coming from ‘at-risk’ countries: Lab



NEW DELHI: No case of the new coronavirus variant ‘Nu’ has been detected at the Delhi airport among the passengers who were transiting or coming from countries identified to be “at risk”, the laboratory which has been tasked with conducting the tests said on Friday.

The Centre had on Thursday asked all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where ‘Nu’ has been detected.

Various countries such as Britain, Germany, Singapore, Israel, France and Italy have restricted air travel from southern Africa where the new coronavirus variant, which causes serious health implications, has been reported.

The Health Ministry said on Friday that the countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom, and South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel have been put under the “at-risk” category.

Passengers coming from at-risk countries have to give their samples at the airport for RT-PCR testing, according to the Health Ministry’s rules.

“In keeping with the requirements of the Health Ministry, Genetrsings Diagnostic Centre continues to rigorously test all incoming passengers from or transiting through the ‘at risk’ countries,” its founder Gauri Agarwal said in a statement.

There is no significant surge in the number of passengers being tested, but the coordination with the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics continues, she mentioned.

“We are in constant touch with them for the genomic sequence of the samples tested at the airport and trace whether it belongs to the mutated strain, also known as Nu variant now,” she noted.

The Delhi airport facility was equipped to even test above 15,000 samples per day and there has been no case of the Nu variant at the facility so far, she said.

“We are also coordinating with the respective authorities for our other airport-based facilities at Srinagar and Mohali; we have not come across any case of Nu variant there as well,” she noted.

Genestrings Diagnostic Centre has faced similar challenges earlier as well and the experience is helping the laboratory to live up to the expectations, she said.

Meanwhile, India on Friday announced that scheduled international passenger flights will resume from December 15 after 20 months of coronavirus-induced suspension.

According to the Centre’s decision on Friday, airlines will be allowed to operate 50 per cent of their pre-Covid scheduled passenger flights between India and South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana from December 15.

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