Hyderabad: The new variant of SARS-CoV-2 (VUI-20212/01) that was reported in the UK and the urgent need to prevent its spread in Telangana, has prompted the health department here to launch a massive surveillance drive, similar to the initiative launched to track the Markaz cluster in Karimnagar, back in March and April.
Nearly 1,500 travellers reportedly have reached the State from the UK between November 25 and December 23. All efforts were underway to track and physically visit each and every traveller and enquire about their health status.
The authorities have distributed the 1,500 travellers into two groups – those who reached the State in the first fortnight i.e. between November 25 and December 9, and those who arrived here after December 9.
Individuals in the first group were being contacted by the district surveillance teams but their swab samples will not be collected, since they would have already recovered from any Covid-19 infection. Travellers who reached the State after December 9, however, will have to undergo RT-PCR testing and if needed also remain under institutional quarantine for ten days.
Those testing positive will be shifted to Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS), Gachibowli for treatment and their samples would be sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) for genome sequencing. If NIV tests match the UK strain, the treatment protocol in place for patients with an earlier strain of Covid-19, would be extended. Such patients would be tested on the 14th day, after having tested positive in the initial test. In case the sample was found positive on the 14th day, further samples would be collected until two consecutive samples were taken a day apart, test negative.
“In case, passengers arriving between December 21 and 23 test positive, then we have to track down all their close contacts including those who travelled in the same flight and were seated three rows in the front and three rows in the back and also the cabin crew. All these individuals must be subjected to institutional quarantine in separate facilities and they would also undergo RT-PCR tests,” senior health officials said.
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