As the number of COVID-19 patients with the UK coronavirus strain shot to 20 in India, including seven in Karnataka, Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa called on all people who flew back from foreign countries to "get tested for their own sake". The appeal came amid growing worries about the mutation - considered 70 per cent more transmissible - pushing up infections in the state, which is second worst hit in terms of absolute cases.
"Those who came from outside (Britain and other countries over the last two months) must be tested. Those who have already arrived, instead of disappearing, they should get tested for their own sake. As it (UK Covid variant) spreads very easily, this will help to control it... There should not be unnecessary trouble to others," Mr Yediyurappa said a day after centre made genome testing compulsory of Covid swabs from all foreign returnees between December 9 and 22.
According to news agency PTI, 2,500 people have come to Karnataka from the UK between November 25 and December 22. Out of them, till Tuesday evening, 1,903 had been tested and 29 were positive, and results of 275 are awaited.
The state health department has approached the Home Department and the police for tracing returnees who have gone missing.
Of the 20 people with UK Covid strain, seven are in Karnataka - three in Bengaluru municipal area and four in Shivamogga district - Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar told NDTV. He also confirmed that the state has gone back to using some of the older, stricter home isolation guidelines in view of the new virus.
The Karnataka government, like many other states, has imposed restrictions on public celebration of New Year's Eve and day.
"Dear citizens, the danger of corona has still not subsided. As we enter into the New Year (ensure that) even a slight ignorance regarding the pandemic (rules) is not done. Follow the government's guidelines and stay safe," Mr Yediyurappa tweeted.
To prevent any "super spreader events", the government - in keeping with a letter from centre - has prohibited large parties and events at clubs, pubs, restaurants and other places.
Gathering of people at public places and roads for celebrations is also prohibited.
Strict measures are being considered to ensure the new strain can be suppressed in the beginning when "it is easy". Once the transmission is too widespread it is hard to control, the Union Health Ministry had said in its coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
A similar appeal was also made by Pune civic body asking UK-return passengers to come forward for health checks. At least 100 people who returned from Britain before December 22 remain untraceable in the Maharashtra city.