Thiruvananthapuram: Eight people who had returned to Kerala from Britain recently have tested positive for coronavirus infection, State Health Minister K K Shailaja said in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday.
Their swabs have been sent to Pune for more tests, the minister said.
Only after those tests, it will be known if the patients were infected with the new variant of the coronavirus, SARS-Cov-2, circulating in the UK.
Following this development, it has been decided to subject the returnees to more tests, she added.
Surveillance at the four international airports in the state have been further strengthened.
The new variant of the virus, detected in parts of London and southeast England, has been spreading rapidly over the past few weeks and has now been traced in other parts of the United Kingdom.
Shailaja said in Kerala also mild mutation of the coronavirus has been noticed and research with regard to it was on.
After the recently held local body polls, it was feared that there would be a massive surge in cases. However, that did not occur.
The death rate did not go up in the state as the government had taken precautionary steps in this regard, she said.
After reports of the UK variant spreading rapidly, security has been tightened in all the four airports in the state.
Meanwhile, 14 people who returned to Karnataka from the UK in the last week have tested positive for COVID-19.