India has taken a decision to extend the temporary suspension of flights to and from the United Kingdom till January 7, 2021, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said, reported news agency ANI. Earlier, in light of the new strain of coronavirus spreading through the UK, the Centre had announced a decision to suspend flights from December 22 to December 31. India has so far reported 20 cases of the mutant coronavirus.
Separately, the Union health ministry had informed that all the international passengers who have arrived in India during the past 14 days—from December 9-22—if symptomatic and tested positive will be subjected to genome sequencing, in the view of new COVID strain in the United Kingdom.
A number of countries like Canada, Turkey, Belgium, Italy and Israel 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.
Puri said on Twitter that the passengers who are found COVID-19-positive would be sent for institutional quarantine set up by states or UTs.
"Those found negative should be advised to isolate at home for seven days and will be medically monitored by states/UTs," Puri added.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had earlier said that a fast-moving new variant of the virus that is 70 per cent more transmissible than existing strains appeared to be driving the rapid spread of new infections in London and southern England in recent weeks. But he stressed "there's no evidence to suggest it is more lethal or causes more severe illness," or that vaccines will be less effective against it.
-Inputs from agencies