Two from IGI airport fled to avoid government quarantine, say officials
Two passengers from the UK — who went missing from Delhi airport on Tuesday — were aware that they are infected with Covid-19 and deliberately escaped as they did not want to go to institutional quarantine facilities, officials present at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport have claimed.
While one of the passengers was traced in Punjab, the other had managed to flee to Andhra Pradesh.
The state government, Delhi police, or airport authorities have not pressed any charges against the two so far.
The UK returnees, who arrived at the Delhi airport on Monday and Tuesday, were subjected to mandatory RT-PCR tests, as required by the government in order to stop the spread of a new strain of Sars-Cov-2 that spreads faster. India has also suspended all flights to and from the United Kingdom (UK) between December 23 and December 31.
To ensure that passengers returning from the UK do not mix up with other passengers, a special corridor has been set up at the airport to expedite immigration and customs clearance and baggage collection gate.
CISF personnel, donning PPE kits, escort all flyers from the UK through different levels of clearance and drop them at the waiting halls, where they are handed over to health officials.
They are then taken to the testing facility at the multilevel car park facility near Terminal 3.
Officials said they are unsure at which point, the two managed to escape. Airport officials, privy to the case, said the two had tested positive and were to be taken to institutional quarantine.
The health department and the police are unclear whether the two patients escaped before boarding the ambulance at the airport or from the ambulance on way to the quarantine facility.
Deputy commissioner of police (IGIA) Rajeev Ranjan said no such incident took place at the Delhi airport. “Till Thursday night we had received no complaint or report regarding the escapes,” he said.
The two escapes came to light after one of the persons reached Ludhiana and tried to get himself admitted to one of the private hospitals in the city. Both the patients have now been brought back to Delhi,” said an official from the Delhi government, adding that they are currently in the special isolation ward at Delhi government-run Lok Nayak hospital.
Sachin Badhshah, deputy inspector general, CISF, said on the arrival side, “Our role is limited to just facilitating the arriving passengers.” They were escorted and handed over to the authorities concerned, he said.
An officer aware of the matter, said all the passengers from the UK flights were asked to wait for their test reports in a lounge.
“Once someone tested positive, they were asked to isolate themselves, don a PPE, and go to the ambulances waiting outside for transporting them to an isolation facility. However, both the persons managed to slip out either before reaching the ambulance or from within the ambulance,” the official said.
Three others were untraceable on Tuesday and were later traced by Delhi government officials, he added. One among them had tested positive at the IGI airport on Tuesday. “The person was taken to Safdarjung hospital. But there was some miscommunication and Safdarjung hospital released him prescribing home isolation. Then the Covid-19 passenger himself came to a government’s health care facility in east district and was traced by the city’s Covid surveillance system. He was later shifted to the dedicated ward in Lok Nayak hospital on Tuesday night,” said a senior official.
So far, 11 people who travelled from the UK have tested positive for the infection, with at least 50 others, who had come in direct contact with infected patients, also being sent to quarantine.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain said the government “will talk to” airport authorities in the city over the issue.
“Flight operations and security there is under the airport authorities... But a person who has tested positive, should not have moved out,” Jain said .
Asked, about the responsibility of the nodal officer for Covid-19 at the Delhi airport,Jain said, “We will talk to airport authorities about it.”