'Govt alert, no need to panic': Harsh Vardhan on concerns about new coronavirus strain in UK

Several European countries including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Italy, have banned flights from the UK with the British government warning that the potent new strain is 'out of control'

Press Trust of India December 21, 2020 15:42:05 IST
'Govt alert, no need to panic': Harsh Vardhan on concerns about new coronavirus strain in UK

File Image of Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. PTI

New Delhi: The government is fully alert and there is no need to panic, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday amid concerns over the emergence of a new coronavirus strain in the UK.

The health ministry has called an urgent meeting of its Joint Monitoring Group on Monday to discuss the new strain, which has led to a surge in the infection rate in the UK.

Responding to a question on the panic and a demand to ban flights from the UK, Vardhan told reporters, "I would say this to all that all these imaginary situations, imaginary talks, imaginary panic... don't involve yourself in this."

"The government is fully alert about everything. If you ask me, there is no reason to panic the way we are seeing in this press conference," the minister said.

He said the government had done everything that was important to handle the COVID-19 situation in the past year. The scientific community, he added, had very ably risen to the occasion, continuously striving and contributing to whatever was needed to combat and understand any aspect of COVID-19 .

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has demanded that the Centre ban all flights from the UK immediately in view of the emergence of a mutated variant of the coronavirus there.

Several European countries, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Italy, have banned flights from the UK with the British government warning that the potent new strain of the virus was "out of control" and imposing a stringent ew stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson last week said a fast-moving new variant of the virus that is 70 percent 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.

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