20 UK passengers test positive for Covid-19, states start tracking contacts
With up to 20 UK passengers testing positive for Covid-19 at Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata airports, state governments have begun vigorously monitoring contracts for passengers who came from the UK or other European countries in the last 10 days.
At least two people tested positive for Covid-19 in Kolkata after returning from the UK, said West Bengal’s health secretary NS Nigam, the state’s health secretary.
One person has tested positive for Covid-19 out of 24 passengers who returned from the UK to Tamil Nadu, Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said. 15 passengers were tested on Monday and another 9 were tested on Tuesday. “We have also identified 15 other people who were in close contact with the positive person while they were traveling together on domestic Air India flight 553,” Radhakrishnan said. “They could have been exposed while sitting in rows adjacent to this (infected) individual. They are already in home quarantine, but we are also going to test them ”.
The priority health department is tracking the health of 1,088 passengers who came from England in the past seven days and who will likely be screened in the next stage. According to the government’s SOP, data is being collected for all international travelers who arrived after November 25.
Seven passengers and one crew member who arrived from the UK on an Air India flight tested positive for Covid-19, Punjab’s Minister of Education and Medical Research, OP Soni told reporters, adding that those who tested positive in the infection they will be quarantined. Six passengers at Delhi airport from the UK also tested positive for Covid-19.
Four passengers, including a British national, who arrived in Ahmedabad on Tuesday morning on an Air India flight from London tested positive for Covid-19, a city civic official said. Six passengers at Delhi airport from the UK also tested positive for Covid.
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The swab samples from the Covid-19-positive passengers were sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for genomic testing to identify if it is the new strain of the virus. Test reports would arrive in a few days. Officials at the union’s Health Ministry said Tuesday that there were no confirmed cases of a new strain of coronavirus in the country.
The British government had warned of a potent new strain of the Covid-19 virus that was “out of control” with 70 percent more transmission capacity and had imposed a new, strict stay-at-home lockdown since Sunday. India announced Monday the suspension of all flights to and from the UK between December 23 and December 31 to prevent the arrival of the new Covid-19 strain that is believed to spread the infection more quickly.
As experts said that the new strain of the virus would have been there for a long time and might have escaped Covid testing, the possibility that the virus has entered India cannot be ruled out. The first confirmation of the new strain occurred a week ago.
However, states like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, and Kerala have started tracking all passengers who came from the UK and other European countries in the last 10 days for Covid-19.
Greater Chennai Municipal Corporation Deputy Commissioner Meghnathan Reddy said that if a returnee from the UK tests positive, the entire street where they are staying will be tested. “Swab samples for genome testing will also be sent to NIV, Pune,” Radhakrishnan said. Those who test negative will be sent home for a 14-day quarantine and positive cases will be referred to hospitals.
From Chennai airport, about 2,000 UK passengers arrived last week. In the case of Calcutta, the number is close to 1,500. Some of the passengers did not undergo RT-PCRT tests, after which they were retested.
At least 222 passengers on a flight arrived in Kolkata from London early Sunday. At least 25 passengers, who did not have RT-PCR test reports at the time of landing, were tested in Kolkata. Two of them tested positive and were transferred to two separate hospitals, ”said Nigam.
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Kaushik Bhattacharya, director of the NSCBI airport said: “If someone tests positive, state government officials take the infected person to a designated Covid-19 hospital.”
At Amritsar’s Sri Guru Ramdas Jee International Airport, all passengers coming from the UK are being screened for Covid-19, resulting in long hours of waiting for passengers to leave the airport. “Cleaning the patients could take some time as all passengers and crew members are being screened for Covid-19,” Amritsar Deputy Deputy Commissioner Himanshu Aggarwal said.
Ankush, a resident of Faridkot in Punjab, said his brother Ankur came from the UK. “All members of our family have been waiting for him for the past few hours,” PTI quoted him as saying. He accused the authorities of not informing them about the time they should take for their authorization.
In Telangana, where 358 passengers had arrived in the past week from the UK, efforts were underway to track them down, said Telangana Public Health Director G Srinivas Rao. He added that so far no cases of the new strain of Covid-19 have been confirmed and that all passengers are being examined by Covid. Hyderabad had four direct flights and seven connecting flights to the UK.
The Uttar Pradesh health department issued instructions to screen all passengers who returned from the UK and Europe in the last week for Covid-19, a state government statement said. Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain told reporters that government officials will visit the homes of passengers who have arrived from the UK in the past 10 days to check their health. The Chhattisgarh government also issued a similar standard operating procedure on Tuesday night.