Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Friday announced that flight services between India and the United Kingdom will resume from January 8. The operations were suspended on December 21 in a bid to contain a new strain of the coronavirus first discovered in Britain.
“Operations till January 23 will be restricted to 15 flights per week each for carriers of two countries to and from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad only,” the minister said in a tweet.
He said the Director General of Civil Aviation will release more details shortly.
So far, 29 people in India have tested positive for the new strain of the coronavirus.
About the new strain
The new variant of the infection has also been reported in Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.
The new UK virus variant, which scientists have named “VUI – 202012/01”, includes a genetic mutation in the “spike” protein, which could result in coronavirus spreading more easily between people. It was first announced by Matt Hancock, the UK health secretary, on December 14, and was subsequently confirmed by Public Health England and the UK’s Covid-19 sequencing consortium. Screening back through databases of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19, the first sample was taken in the county of Kent on September 20.
The variant carries 14 defining mutations including seven in the spike protein, which mediates entry of the virus into human cells. This is a relatively large number of changes compared to the many variants in circulation globally. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed that this was as much as 70% more transmissible than previous versions. But there is currently no evidence that the variant is more likely to cause severe coronavirus infections or that it would render vaccines less effective.