India reports 14 new cases of mutant coronavirus strain
India has reported 14 new cases of the mutated strain of the coronavirus first detected in the United Kingdom. Combined with the first six cases confirmed on Tuesday, India has now reported a total of 20 cases involving the new "more infectious" strain. With eight of the total 20 cases, Delhi has reported the most number of infections, followed by Bengaluru (7).
First detected in the UK in September, the new strain is said to be as much as 70% more infectious. However, experts say there is no evidence that the mutation causes the virus to become more deadly or cause a more severe infection. There is also no evidence to suggest that the vaccines developed against COVID-19 will not work against the mutated strain.
The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said that all international travelers who arrived in India during the last 14 days (December 9-22, 2020) would be subjected to genome sequencing if they are symptomatic and have tested positive for the virus. Last week, the government had unveiled detailed guidelines for the tracking and isolation of the new coronavirus variant.
At least 50 countries have imposed travel restrictions on the UK in light of the emergence of the mutated strain. Last week, India suspended all flights to and from the UK till December 31, 2020. On Wednesday, Union Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Puri indicated that India may extend the suspension of flights connecting to the UK beyond December 31.
As of Wednesday morning, India reported a total of 1,02,44,852 COVID-19 cases, with 20,549 new cases being recorded over a 24-hour period. The total cases include 2,62,272 active cases, while 98,34,141 patients have recovered. The death toll has risen to 1,48,439 with 286 fresh fatalities. India is the world's second worst-hit country in the outbreak after the United States.