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Hyderabad: Woman tests Covid positive on return from UK, sample sent for genome sequencing

Telangana has increased surveillance at the airport in view of the Omicron variant. At least 10 teams have been deployed to screen international passengers arriving from ‘at-risk’ countries.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad |
Updated: December 2, 2021 5:21:00 pm
Hyderabad airportThe passenger, a native of Rangareddy district, has been moved to Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) for observation and treatment. (File)

A 35-year-old woman who arrived on a British Airways flight to Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) at Shamshabad tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, a day after she arrived from the UK, one of the ‘at-risk’ countries as per the Centre’s guidelines in the wake of the emergence of the Omicron strain, said Telangana Director of Public Health Dr G Srinivas Rao. Her swab samples have been sent for analysis. Rao said initial tests did not detect the Omicron variant.

The passenger, a native of Rangareddy district, has been moved to Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) for observation and treatment even though she is asymptomatic and her health status is fine, Rao said.

“So far, Omicron variant has not been detected in Telangana. The 35-year-old woman who has come in British Airways to RGIA Shamshabad has tested positive for Covid-19. Samples collected from her were sent for whole genome sequencing. Whether she has the Omicron or Delta variant will be known only after receiving the genome sequencing results,” he said.

“The woman’s sample has been sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad for genome sequencing and the result is expected in three days. We feel that it could be the Delta variant of coronavirus and not the Omicron variant,” Rao added.

Dr Rao said all close contacts of the woman have tested negative for Covid. All 325 passengers who arrived in Hyderabad on Wednesday from ‘at-risk’ countries in a British Airways and a Singapore Airlines aircraft have been quarantined and they will be tested again after seven days.

Telangana Health Department officials have requested enforcement authorities to watch out for citizens not wearing face masks. In spite of authorities imposing a fine of Rs 1,000 for not wearing masks, a number of people are defying the rule. Rao said health officials will conduct random checks and will request people to show their vaccine certificates. “We request people to carry their Covid vaccine certificates. Telangana health department teams will visit public places and will randomly ask people for vaccine certificates. This is a cautionary measure and also creates awareness towards vaccination. Our agenda is to safeguard the health and lives of people,’’ Rao said.

Rao warned that the new Omicron variant may hit any time if citizens do not follow safety protocols. “We are making all efforts to prevent the new variant from spreading. But citizens should also do their duty in stopping the spread of the virus by taking precautionary measures,’’ Dr Rao said. “We are appealing to everyone who has not taken the vaccine or the second dose to take it immediately. The new Covid-19 variant’s spread and effects will depend a lot on the precautions taken by people,” he said.

The Telangana government has increased surveillance at the RGIA in view of the new variant. At least 10 teams have been deployed at the airport to screen international passengers arriving from ‘at-risk’ countries. From Wednesday, the government made it compulsory for passengers arriving from 12 countries to undergo RT-PCR tests. Those who test positive are being admitted to the isolation ward at Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) at Gachibowli. More than 50 passengers who arrived from the 12 ‘at-risk’ countries, including 25 from Europe and 17 from the UK, have been tested.

Dr Rao stated that the Centre or state will notify if the Omicron variant is detected in India and that no information would be withheld.

A mild spike has been observed in the number of daily Covid cases , the health department said. The department, which had set a December 31 deadline to fully vaccinate 2.77 crore people, has partially vaccinated 90 per cent and fully vaccinated 47 per cent of the eligible population, Dr Rao said.


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