New Delhi, Dec 30 (PTI) The Delhi government on Wednesday ordered setting up of isolation facilities at four private hospitals for those who travelled from or transited through the UK between November 25 and December 24 and tested positive for the new strain of the coronavirus.

India suspended all flights coming from the UK from the midnight of December 23 till January 7 following the detection of the mutated strain of the SARS-CoV-2 in that country.

Authorities at Max Smart Super Specialty Hospital, Saket; Batra Hospital and Research Centre, Tughlakabad Institutional Area; Fortis Super Specialty Hospital, Vasant Kunj, and Sir Ganga Ram City Hospital were directed to set up separate isolation units for such passengers on payment basis with immediate effect and follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the Union Health Ministry.

According to the SOP, state governments have to ensure that all passengers travelling from or transiting through airports in the UK and disembarking in India would be subjected to RT-PCR test on arrival.

In case of a positive sample, it is recommended that spike gene-based RT-PCR test should also be performed by an appropriate laboratory.

Passengers testing positive should be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate (isolation) unit coordinated by the respective state health authority, the SOP states.

Specific facilities will be earmarked for such isolation and treatment, it said.

Samples of all positive patients are to be compulsorily sent by the institutional isolation facility for Genome Testing to either National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, or any other appropriate lab for genomic sequencing.

If the report of the sequencing is consistent with the current SARS-CoV-2 virus genome circulating in the country, the ongoing treatment protocol including home isolation or treatment at facility level as per case severity may be followed, the SOP states.

However, if the genomic sequencing indicates the presence of the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 then the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit.

The World Health Organisation has said that the mutant strain of the virus, with a 70 per cent higher rate of transmission, may already be present in several countries, although it was "unlikely that a couple of mutations" could affect the immune system's response to an existing vaccine.

The presence of the new UK variant has already been reported by Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore so far.