Chandigarh : The Punjab government on Tuesday issued the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Epidemiological Surveillance and Response in the context of new variant SARS-CoV-2 virus detected in United Kingdom.
Giving details in press communiqué, the Health Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu said that instructions have been issued to all Deputy Commissioners and Civil Surgeons regarding surveillance and testing of passengers travelling from or transiting through United Kingdom. He said that 262 travelers, who arrived from UK on 21st -23rd December, 2020 were kept under observation at Air Port at a separate area after taking their samples for RTPCR testing. 8 of them turned out to be positive and have been isolated as per SOPs.
He divulged that a new variant of SARS- COV 2 virus [Variant Under Investigation (VUI)-20212/01] has been reported by the Government of United Kingdom (UK) to World Health Organization (WHO). This variant is estimated by European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) to be more transmissible and affecting younger population. This variant is defines by a set of 17 changes or mutations. One of the most significant is an N 501Y mutation in the spike of protein that the virus uses to blind to the human ACE2 receptor. Changes in this part of the spike protein may result in the virus becoming more infectious and spreading more easily between people.
Divulging about Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), he said that it describes the activities to be undertaken at the point of entry and in the community for all International passengers who have travelled from or transited through UK in the past 4 weeks (from 25 November to 23 December 2020). Any reference to testing in this SOP implies RT-PCR testing only.