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Covid-positive South Africa returnee had tested negative 72 hours before boarding flight

BMC is trying to trace the private cab driver who drove him to Dombivli and also the fellow passengers sat in close proximity to him in the flight.

Written by Rupsa Chakraborty | Mumbai |
Updated: November 30, 2021 7:01:55 am
Mumbai airport

The 32-year-old Dombivli resident with international travel history from South Africa, who tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Delhi on November 24, had tested negative after an RT-PCR test conducted 72 hours prior to his journey from Cape Town to Mumbai.

Now, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is trying to trace the private cab driver who drove him to Dombivli along with the fellow passengers who were in his close proximity in the flight.

“He had undergone an RT-CPR test in Cape Town before travelling to Mumbai via Delhi but the report was negative for SARS-CoV-2. Upon landing in Delhi airport, when another RT-PCR test was conducted, he was found positive. There is a possibility that his previous report was false negative,” said Pratibha Panpatil, Chief Medical Officer of the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC).

Despite running a test on him at Delhi airport, the authorities allowed him to fly to Mumbai without waiting for the report. When he landed in Mumbai, he received his digital test report in his email which confirmed that he was carrying a pathogen of Covid-19. But while getting out of the airport, he showed his earlier negative test report to the screening officers.

Then he took a private cab and travelled 50 km to his home in Dombivli, exposing the taxi driver and nearby passers-by. In a similar incident last year in March, the first identified three Covid-19 infected patients in Maharashtra infected a taxi driver who drove them from Mumbai to Pune on March 1 upon their arrival from Dubai.

Although health officials are yet to ascertain if he is infected with the Omicron variant of Covid-19, doctors cautioned Mumbai airport and asked them to be vigilant. They also demanded stringent restrictions on international and domestic travellers to stop the spread of Omicron in the crowd through administrative loopholes and ignorance of the public.

“Firstly, the infected patient should have taken an ambulance to reach home if he wanted to get home quarantined. Secondly, Mumbai airport needs to be more vigilant and learn from their past experiences. All international passengers need to be mandatorily institutionally quarantined directly from the airport. An RT-PCR test should be conducted on all of them to rule out asymptomatic patients,” said Dr Avinash Bhondwe, former president of Indian Medical Association (IMA), Maharashtra.

KDMC tested eight of his close contacts, including his aged parents, but their reports have returned negative.

“We have sent his samples for genome sequencing to Kasturba hospital and are hoping to get a report within a week,” said Panpatil.


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