As at the beginning of the spread of Covid19, various strains of the virus have emerged – notably, the Kent, South African, and Brazilian variants – and now a new variant of concern has emerged, originating in India.
For this article, we would be focused on the India variant.
How the India variant got to the UK
India is currently facing a tremendous surge in cases of COVID-19. Presently, there have been more than 26 million cases across India and 300,000 recorded deaths. Only 3% of the country’s population have been fully vaccinated and hospitals have been subjugated, unable to treat every patient.
In the UK, all known cases of the Indian variant have been found in returning travellers. The virus has spread to people who have not returned from India and in the North West.
The new India variant is more infectious than the variant from Kent which was responsible for the second wave of COVID-19 infections during winter. Scientists estimate that the Indian variant could be up to 50% more infectious than the Kent variant and spreads more easily between people.
Factors like how much of the spread is as a result of human behaviour and how infectious the virus is, need to be taken into account when calculating how quickly it’s spreading in the UK.
This is also important because lockdown restrictions have recently been eased and people are taking more risks by spending time indoors and having close contact.
Currently, evidence that the new variant is more likely than other variants to cause serious illness or death however it is important to carry ensure you have received a fit-to-fly certificate to ensure you are free of COVID-19 Indian variant and Covid19 in general.
The fit-to-fly certificate is a result signed by an authorized doctor used for travelling purposes with airlines.
One of the test you can carry out before travelling is the PCR Swab test
PCR tests detect the Indian variant genetic material in the patient’s sample of saliva or mucus. The test will tell if a patient is infected on the day of the test.
The test may come out Inaccurate tests if the patient is tested very early or very late in their infection.
How it is carried out:
• The health care provider carries out the test by using a swap to get a sample from either inside the nose, throat, back of the cheeks, or along the gums or tongue
• A container is given to the patient to spit into.
• The results from the test could be ready that day or take a week or longer if the test went to a lab (It all depends on the service provider you use). A factor that could make it take longer is community testing. if a community does many tests at the same time, then getting your results may take a while.
• The results could either indicate positive or negative for the Indian variant. A positive test means the patient is infected with the Indian variant while a negative test means they aren’t infected.
Before you travel (if you have to travel), ensure you get your Fit to fly certificate Indian and, in case you start feeling any symptoms like loss of smell, fever, sore throat, etc. immediately order your PCR Swab kit .