EVEN AS the PMC makes efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 among local residents, it is also facing another challenge as citizens, returning to India from abroad under Vande Bharat Mission, are testing positive for the novel coronavirus.
The declaration of complete lockdown in the country from March 25 had brought a halt to international arrivals at airports, leading to many Indian citizens being stranded abroad. Before that, the central government had also banned flights from select countries that had reported Covid-19 cases.
Before the lockdown, the civic body had identified at least 19 patients with foreign travel history but the number froze as international flights were disallowed. The efforts of the PMC to identify infected patients included the criteria of foreign travel history in the last 15 days.
The central government, however, launched Vande Bharat Mission on May 7 to bring stranded citizens back to India and, since then, the PMC has identified 16 patients.
“The arrival of citizens is on under Vande Bharat Mission and around 2,000 citizens have returned so far. It is true that some of them have tested positive for the virus,” said Yuvraj Deshmukh, in-charge of institutional quarantine facility for Indian citizens, who have returned from foreign countries.
He said citizens, who had returned from abroad and had tested positive, did not have a common travel history as they had come from different countries.
He also said the PMC had made a week’s institutional quarantine mandatory for every such citizen, adding, “These citizens are quarantined at city hotels and are paying for it. The PMC is managing and coordinating the entire process.”
Citizens returning from foreign countries are screened at the airport from where they board, and also after landing in India. “The rule of institutional quarantine for these citizens despite screening is turning out to be beneficial. The symptoms emerge later during quarantine and this has helped the PMC identify and isolate them for treatment instead of allowing them free movement in the city,” he said, adding that soon after testing positive, patients were referred to Covid hospitals for treatment.
According to procedure, citizens returning from abroad are sent to city in state-run public transport service and the civic body is entrusted with the responsibility to make arrangements for their quarantine at hotels.
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