Health ministry calls urgent meeting of key group after new strain of Covid-19 found in UK

The Union health ministry on Sunday called an urgent meeting of its Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) after a new strain of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) surfaced in the United Kingdom, news agency PTI reported.

PTI further reported that the JMG, chaired by the Director General of Health Services (DGHS), will hold a meeting on Monday morning to discuss the issue of the mutated variant of the coronavirus reported from the UK. WHO’s India representative Dr Roderico H Ofrin, who is also a member of the JMG, is likely to participate in the meeting.

According to health ministry website, the JMG has been formed to review regularly the global/ Indian situation, and provide recommendations on technical matters to the ministry. It would also monitor outbreak situation.

British health secretary Matt Hancock on Sunday raised the prospect that London could be under lockdown for months as he has warned it will be “very difficult” to keep a virulent new strain of the coronavirus under control until vaccinations are rolled out.

“It is going to be very difficult to keep it under control until we have the vaccine rolled out,” he said. “We know with this new variant you can catch it more easily from a small amount of the virus being present.”

“All of the different measures we have in place, we need more of them to control the spread of the new variant than we did to control the spread of the old variant,” he said. “That is the fundamental problem.”

On Saturday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new tier four of Covid-19 restrictions for London and other parts of England to combat an alarming surge in infections linked to a new virulent strain.

“New variant may be up to 70 per cent more transmissible,” he said.

A number of European countries have banned flights from the UK as the British government warned that the potent new strain of the virus was “out of control” and imposed a stringent new stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.

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