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TelanganaNew Coronavirus strain: Telangana to trace foreign arrivals

New Coronavirus strain: Telangana to trace foreign arrivals

Published: 22nd Dec 2020 8:44 pm | Updated: 23rd Dec 2020 12:39 am

Hyderabad: In a swift move aimed at quickly ascertaining the presence of ‘B 1.1.7’, the new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 that has gripped United Kingdom, the Health Department here has launched a massive surveillance drive to track all the international travellers who have reached the State since November 25.

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As part of these efforts, the district surveillance teams of the department have already identified 358 travellers who have reached Hyderabad directly from UK between December 15 and 22. The teams are in the process of individually contacting the travellers to conduct RT-PCR tests.

Those who test positive would be admitted to a healthcare facility for treatment while those testing negative would be under institutional quarantine for at least 10 days. In the last 24 hours, seven passengers from UK have directly reached Hyderabad and all of them have tested negative in the RT-PCR tests. They will be under institutional quarantine for the next 10 days.

“According to information provided by the Health Ministry, the new variant of coronavirus has spread in Europe, Australia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. So, instead of just focussing on passengers from UK, we will track all the international travellers who have come to Telangana since November 25,” Director of Public Health Dr G Srinivasa Rao said on Tuesday.

He said the new mutation is more transmissible and is known to affect younger population. The variant is defined as a set of nearly 17 changes or mutations.

“It is clear the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 is more infectious and spreading more easily between people and we have decided to focus on all the international travellers, so that positive cases can be isolated at the earliest. Samples of those testing positive will be sent for genome sequencing to either CCMB or any other research facility advised by the Health Ministry,” Dr Rao said at a press conference.

Every week, Hyderabad receives four direct flights from UK apart from at least seven weekly connecting flights between Hyderabad and UK. The health surveillance teams are in the process of identifying all passengers who have reached Hyderabad from different air routes and conduct Covid tests if necessary.

“There is a chance we may struggle to contact all the international passengers. That’s why we are urging all foreign returned individuals to call us at 040-24651119 for guidance and tests if needed. Our special teams will contact them individually,” Dr Rao said.

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