'Govt alert, no need to panic'
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 Union 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 last one 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.
Expressing concern over the new coronavirus strain in the UK, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday asked the Centre to take prompt action, prepare a contingency plan and immediately ban all flights from the UK and other European countries.
In a tweet, Gehlot said India was late in banning international flights when COVID-19 had started spreading, leading to a drastic spike in cases in the country.
"The new strain of novel coronavirus emerging in the UK is a matter of great concern. GoI must take prompt action, prepare a contingency plan to contain the same & also immediately ban all flights from the UK & other European countries," he tweeted.
"India needs both a preparedness plan as well as steps to restrict any movement from affected countries. Our medical experts must be ready with a treatment plan in case of any outbreak of the new strain of virus. Health protocols must be adhered to even more strictly, the chief minister said.
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 new stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.