Patna: The health department in Bihar is searching for 96 people who returned to the state in the past month from the United Kingdom where the new highly contagious strain of COVID-19 has been reported, prompting the Indian government to extend the temporary suspension of flights to and from the country for another one week.
A health department official said they had been informed by the Airports Authority that a total of 96 people reached Patna from the UK in the past one month. “On the basis of information provided by the Airports Authority, we are searching for these people to make them undergo coronavirus test,” Patna civil surgeon Dr Vibha Kumar told the media on Wednesday.
“All these people will have to undergo real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for which their swab samples have to be sent to laboratories for tests,” the civil surgeon said. She added the department would undertake contact tracing once anyone tests positive.
Health authorities have asked all the UK returnees to be self-quarantined at home until the reports of the RT-PCR tests are released. Reports said many people have already been traced and their swab samples collected for tests but reports are still awaited. The test reports are likely to come out on Thursday, officials said.
Health authorities tightened their measures soon after it was found that at least seven people who returned from the UK had tested positive for the new variant, according to the initial results of genome sequencing of positive samples released by the Indian SARS-COV2 Genomics Consortium labs on Tuesday.
Bihar is one of the Indian states badly affected by COVID-19 and in the past week, an average of 650 cases of coronavirus have been reported every day, with Patna, the capital city, being the worst affected. According to the latest report of the health department, COVID-19 has claimed 1,389 lives in the state and infected more than 251,000 people so far.
Of the 38 districts in the state, Patna remains the worst affected with a total of 48,561 people found infected with the coronavirus, followed by 11,548 in Muzaffarpur, 9,356 in Bhagalpur, 9,251 in Purnia, 8,096 in Nalanda, 8360 in East Champaran. The first case in the state was detected in March.