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No need to panic over new UK coronavirus strain, says India's health minister

FILE PHOTO: A health worker in personal protective equipment (PPE) collects a swab sample from a woman during a rapid antigen testing campaign for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a railway station platform in Mumbai, India, December 19, 2020. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas reuters_tickers
This content was published on December 21, 2020 - 09:43

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's health authorities remain vigilant and prepared to deal with a new more transmissible strain of the coronavirus identified in Britain, the country's health minister said on Monday, adding that there was no need to panic.

India has recorded the world's second highest number of infections and breached the 10 million case milestone over the weekend. More than 145,000 people have died from COVID-19.

"If you ask me, there is no reason for such panic," India's Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said at a press briefing in New Delhi.

A government committee tasked with monitoring the pandemic met on Monday to discuss the new strain, an official said. But it was unclear whether India would halt flights to Britain, one of 23 countries that it shares an "air bubble" with.

"Don't entangle yourself in this imaginary situation, imaginary talk, imaginary panic," Vardhan said. "The government is completely vigilant."

(Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar and Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Robert Birsel and Alison Williams)

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