At least 22 people who came to India from the UK in the past few days have tested positive for COVID-19 amid alarm over a mutant strain of the coronavirus that is believed to be more contagious and was first identified in Britain.
Eleven people who came from or via the UK have tested positive in Delhi, eight in Amritsar, two in Kolkata and one in Chennai, authorities said. There have been no confirmed instances of the mutant strain anywhere in India so far, the government has said.
Over the last two days, before the ban on flights from the UK kicked in on Wednesday, all passengers from the country have been subjected to RT-PCR tests for the coronavirus and made to wait at the airports till the results came in.
Samples of those who tested positive have been sent to specialised labs like the National Institute of Virology in Pune to determine if the infection is from the mutant coronavirus.
Authorities are also tracing every traveller from the UK in the last four weeks and recommending strict self-monitoring for those who have come in over the last two weeks.
India has suspended all flights from the UK until December 31 and the country's financial capital Mumbai has announced a night-time curfew over fears of the British strain.
Passengers flying into India's biggest airports on Tuesday complained of long waits and confusion as authorities sought to impose rules to try to stop the spread of the new more transmissible variant of the coronavirus.
India recorded 23,950 new COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, taking its total cases to 1.01 crore, the health ministry said on Wednesday. Less than 3 lakh of those are currently infected with the coronavirus, it said.
Daily cases have been dipping steadily in the country since hitting a peak in September, although the country still has the second-highest infections in the world, after the United States.
A total of 1,46,444 people have died of COVID-19 in the country, with 333 of those deaths coming in the last 24 hours, the ministry said.
(With inputs from agencies)