Hyderabad: Seven travellers from the United Kingdom who arrived in the State after December 9 have tested positive for Covid-19.

Their samples have been sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) for gene sequencing to ascertain whether they were infected with the new strain of coronavirus B 1.1.7 or by the conventional SARS-CoV-2 strain.

To ensure the transmission chains of the virus are broken, the health department has launched a massive surveillance drive to track all close relatives, family members and friends of the seven individuals have tested positive for Covid-19. After tracking them, depending on their health condition and symptoms, they will be either tested or kept under institutional quarantine for a minimum of ten days.

Health Minister E Rajender said people must realise that the new strain of coronavirus was highly transmissible. “We should not take any chances and do our best to follow Covid-19 guidelines. Just to ensure we are thorough with our surveillance, we are closely monitoring the health status of all the UK travellers who have tested negative in the RT-PCR tests,” he told presspersons after a review meeting with senior health officials on Thursday.

The Minister and senior health officials urged people to celebrate Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Sankranti festivals by avoiding mass gatherings.

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