New Delhi: Amid the detection of the latest mutation of coronavirus in the UK, 11 passengers who arrived in Delhi from London have tested positive for the Covid-19 at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) in the last two days, creating panic in the national capital.
However, the head of the laboratory that tests international passengers at IGIA, told IANS that on the basis of cases detected at the airport, the situation seems far from alarming since the rate of positivity found in the UK passengers is way lesser than what the laboratory detects daily at the airport.
Chetan Kohli, Chief Operating Officer of Genestrings, the lab authorised to test for Covid-19 at the IGIA, told IANS that less than 1.5 per cent of the inbound UK passengers tested positive for Covid-19 whereas the daily average of case positivity found among the international travellers oscillates around 4-5 per cent.
“We daily test around 1,100 passengers and their positivity rate varies between 4 and 5 per cent. In case of UK passengers, the positivity rate found was not even 1.5 per cent of the total tests. It is one-third of the positivity we detect daily at the airport,” he said.
“If we look at the situation on the basis of positivity, the situation seems far from panicky,” Kohli said.
He also suggested that the public should not worry and wait for the results of genome sequencing of the samples being studied at various labs across the country.
The samples of infected passengers have been sent to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for genome sequencing study, so as to determine if the passengers are carrying the existing strain of SARS-CoV-2 or the mutant strain which was discovered in the UK.
NCDC Director Sujeet Kumar Singh had told IANS on Wednesday that the results of the study would take 2 to 3 days to determine the status of the samples.
The British government had recently announced that the newly-identified strain of the virus found in its population is up to 70 per cent more transmissible and the situation is “out of control”. This prompted Indian authorities to suspend flights to and from the UK between December 23 and December 31.
Dr Gauri Agarwal, Director, Genestrings, said that a total of 4 flights had landed at the IGIA since the directive came to close the sky for UK flights. Over 950 inbound passengers from London were tested at the lab, she said.
So far, 22 passengers from the UK arriving in different Indian cities have been found to be Covid infected.