In order to discuss a mutant COVID-19 that has spread rapidly; in the UK, the Health Ministry has called a meeting today of its joint monitoring group on COVID-19. Several European nations have banned flights to and from Britain. No policy decision has been taken by India on any flight ban from the UK; but the matter will be given serious consideration, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Britain has warned this new strain of corona virus was “out of control”, and imposed a stringent new stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.
The joint monitoring group chaired by the Directorate-General of Health Services (DGHS) will discuss the mutated variant of the corona virus reported from the UK, as per the government sources.
The World Health Organisation’s India representative; Roderico H Ofrin, who is also a member of the monitoring group, is likely to participate in the meeting. The Netherlands has imposed a ban on UK flights and Belgium said it would follow suit. Germany, too, stopped flights from Britain and is considering; a similar move as “a serious option” for flights from South Africa, where another variant of corona virus was discovered.
Italy will join the ban in order to protect its citizens, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on Facebook, without specifying when the measures would come into force. Austria’s Health Ministry told the APA news agency; that it would also impose a flight ban, the details of which were still being worked out.
Britain Health Secretary Matt Hancock on Sunday warned that the strict measures that affect almost a third of England’s population could stay in place until the virus vaccine is fully rolled out.
“We acted very quickly and decisively,” Mr. Hancock told Sky News, justifying the “stay at home” order, ban on; family gatherings over Christmas, and closure of non-essential shops. “Unfortunately, the new strain was out of control. We have got to get it under control.”
The mutant COVID-19 or the mutation of the corona virus is worrying scientists across the globe as drug firms are still in their early stages of rolling out vaccines.
Scientists first discovered the new variant which they believe is 70 per cent more transmissible in a patient in September. Public Health England, a government agency, raised alarm on Friday when modelling revealed the full seriousness of the new strain.
Britain’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty pointed out that while the new strain; was greatly more infectious, “there is no current evidence to suggest it causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines; and treatments, although urgent work is underway to confirm this,” news agency AFP reported.
India on Sunday added 26,624 COVID-19 infections; in 24 hours, taking its tally to 1,00,31,223, according to the Health Ministry data.