The Delhi government on Tuesday said people who have arrived here from the UK recently are being traced and tested, while an institutional quarantine facility is being set up for positive cases at the LNJP Hospital amid mounting concern over a new strain of the virus detected in that country.
All passengers arriving from the UK are being tested for Covid-19 at the Delhi airport, Health Minister Satyendar Jain told reporters.
Sources said an institutional quarantine facility is being created at the LNJP Hospital in an isolated area away from the main Covid wards, for UK passengers testing positive at the airport.
Jain, earlier in the day, said Delhi has fought difficult battles with Covid-19 and all efforts will be made to ensure that the improvement made in the management of the pandemic is "not reversed".
"The Delhi government is on alert in the wake of a mutated coronavirus strain detected in the UK. The situation is being closely monitored and mandatory tests are being conducted at the Delhi airport for all passengers arriving from that country," he said.
The Civil Aviation Ministry on Monday said all flights from the UK to India and vice versa will remain suspended from Wednesday to December 31 in view of the emergence of a mutated variant of coronavirus there.
Six passengers travelling on Air India's London-Delhi flight tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival, a senior government official earlier said on Tuesday. The flight landed around 11.30 pm on Monday.
In the last two weeks, about 6,000-7,000 people have landed at Delhi airport, many of whom would have travelled to other places like Punjab from thereon, Jain said.
"We will go house-to-house and do check-up of passengers to assess their condition and also advise them to isolate themselves for some time," he said.
Later in a statement issued by the health department, Jain was quoted as saying, "people who travelled to Delhi from the UK in the past 10 days are being traced, tested and advised quarantine".
"Our strategy for this is that we will identify all those who are based out of Delhi in the past two weeks and conduct door-to-door testing for them," he said.
A senior official said in the South-West district about 85 people are there who have returned from the UK since December 7 and they have been contacted and put under observation though no one has been found positive.
Another senior Delhi government officer said all the instructions of the central government regarding arrival of passengers from the UK is being followed. Adequate teams have been deputed at district levels for door-to-door tracing to ensure testing of the passengers who have arrived in Delhi from the UK in the recent weeks.
The government has also designated a five-star hotel in Aerocity area as a paid quarantine facility for the passengers arriving at Indira Gandhi International Airport from the UK, he said.
Sources said passengers coming from the UK are being administered RT-PCR tests at the airport. Anyone testing negative but with symptoms will be kept in institutional isolation and those testing negative will also be asked to go into self-isolation for seven days, they said.
People travelling on international flights are required to carry a test report with them.
Jain has also appealed to those who have recently come from the UK to monitor their health and go for tests at the slightest of Covid-like symptoms and inform the government.
Asked about the threat of the new virus strain entering Delhi, he said, "Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had appealed to the Centre to close flights from the UK and it had been done. So, we are doing everything possible to contain the spread".
A new vaccine is being prepared to treat Covid-19, he said.
Asked if the new strain could negate its efficacy, he said, "Only scientists and ICMR can comment on it".
"Only ICMR will be able to test and clarify the differences and ways of detection, owing to its scientific nature. We will still be conducting tests because Delhi has successfully combated the third wave of coronavirus and we wouldn't want anything to hamper our success," he said.
"The new strain is more contagious and as seen in the UK is spreading at a fast rate. Therefore, we are taking all proper decisions to not let the new strain affect Delhi," he added.
Delhi recorded 939 fresh Covid-19 cases and 25 new fatalities on Tuesday, even as the positivity rate slipped to 1.14 per cent, authorities said.
The infection tally in the city mounted to over 6.18 lakh and the death toll rose to 10,329, they said.