Five new cases of the UK strain of coronavirus have been detected, which takes the total number of such patients to 25. The highly infectious mutant strain, which first surfaced in the United Kingdom in September, was found to have reached India two days ago with travellers returning from the European nation.
Four of the five new cases were found by National Institute of Virology, Pune and the remaining one was sequenced in IGIB (Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology), Delhi, the health ministry has said.
All 25 patients have been kept in isolation at designated health facilities.
The situation has pushed up concerns over a fresh spike in the infection, which has been brought under control from a high of 97,000 cases a day. The daily surge is now hovering around 20,000 cases.
Doctors have said the UK strain of the virus is super infectious -- 70 per cent more than the existing one.
The Centre has embarked on a huge genome sequencing project involving 10 laboratories across the country to control the virus before it spreads. On the list are those of the 33,000 passengers, who tested positive for coronavirus on their return from UK.
The pool may be widened, with the government deciding to trace and test passengers who reached the country from abroad over 14 days in December.
While the country temporarily banned flights from the UK on December 21, the UK strain of virus -- said to be 70 per cent more contagious -- has reached Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.
"It is easy to suppress the virus in the starting. Once the transmission is too widespread, it is hard to control," Dr VK Paul, a member of Niti Aayog, has said.