Six test Covid positive in Maharashtra after return from high-risk countries

Published on Dec 01, 2021 12:36 AM IST

According to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), of the three who tested positive in Pune district, while one patient returned from Zambia, two others came back from Nigeria

As per Maharashtra government guidelines, a conductor checks the double dose Covid vaccine certificate before giving a bus ticket to passengers, in Mumbai. (ANI)
As per Maharashtra government guidelines, a conductor checks the double dose Covid vaccine certificate before giving a bus ticket to passengers, in Mumbai. (ANI)
BySteffy Thevar

Amid rising concerns over new coronavirus variant Omicron, six residents of Maharashtra, who recently returned from high-risk countries, have tested positive for Covid-19, health officials said on Tuesday. The patients’ samples have been sent for genome sequencing and reports are expected within a week, they added.

According to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), of the three who tested positive in Pune district, while one patient returned from Zambia, two others came back from Nigeria.

A statement from the Public Health Department said: “Currently, six passengers, who arrived from South Africa or other high-risk countries, have tested Covid-19 positive. Of these six, one each has been found in Mumbai Corporation, Kalyan-Dombivali Corporation, Mira-Bhayandar Corporation and Pune limits, while the two Nigeria returnees come under Pimpri-Chinchwad civic body. All their samples have been sent for genetic sequencing and their contact tracing exercise is underway. All these passengers are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. Genetic changes/mutation in viruses is a natural phenomenon and people should not panic.”

The Zambia returnee has been identified as a 60-year-old man, who arrived in Mumbai on November 20 and took a cab to Pune. “The patient, along with his family, returned to India on November 20, via Mumbai airport and then they took a cab to Pune. The 60-year old man felt discomfort and stomach pain following which he got himself tested at Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital and tested positive for the infection,” said Dr Ashish Bharti, chief of the PM health department. The patient’s family members and the cab driver have tested negative, while the 60-year-old is stable, asymptomatic and is nearing the completion of his 14-day isolation period, he added.

Omicron, first found in South Africa, has been identified in at least 12 other countries. Cases have emerged in Botswana, Italy, Hong Kong, Australia, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, Canada, Israel and the Czech Republic. Zambia borders three of the high-risk countries -- Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.

In light of this new variant, the central government has revised travel guidelines to check the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The revised rules for returning international passengers has been revised by the central health ministry which includes self declaration form on Air Suvidha Portal which includes details designation address for contact tracing, details of all travellers to be shared with concerned authorities and random sampling for RT-PCR tests from countries not “at risk”

Bharti said the Pune civic body is currently tracking 40 people who have recently returned from the “at-risk” countries. “The Indian Council of Medical Research, in a video conference held on Tuesday, has assured us that the current set of RTPCR kits and Rapid Antigen Test kits would be able to detect the Omicron variant,” he added.

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, too, conducted a meeting on Monday on tracing such international travellers and ensuring contact tracing. “The meeting also discussed the issue of how to check the passengers arriving from abroad without landing directly at Mumbai or other airports in Maharashtra and then travelling at other places in the country by domestic airlines, road or rail. The question is how to test such people and the prime minister should be apprised of this,” a statement quoted Thackeray as saying.

The order issued by the Maharashtra chief secretary Debashish Chakrabarty added that passengers from other states would compulsorily require a negative RT-PCR test within 48 hours of arrival. While international passengers arriving from other than at-risk countries too would have to undergo compulsory RT-PCR test and 14-day home quarantine. If found positive, they would be shifted to a hospital.

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