Karnataka

Error in data on U.K. returnees rectified

The house of a family that returned from the U.K. and tested positive for COVID-19 was sanitised by civic workers at Rajajinagar in Bengaluru last weekend.   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

While the fear of the U.K. strain of COVID-19 virus looms large, there has been much confusion over the number of U.K. returnees to the State, those not traceable and those tested so far. Till Sunday, Health and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar and health officials had been giving out different sets of numbers on these.

This was however, rectified on Monday, after The Hindu pointed to this discrepancy.

The daily media bulletin issued by the Health Department till Sunday stated that 2,127 international passengers have arrived in the State from the United Kingdom. However, Mr Sudhakar had been saying that a total of 5,068 passengers have landed here from the U.K. from November 25 onwards. Of these, as many as 4,238 passengers have arrived in the State from December 9 onwards, he said.

“Out of 5,068 people, 4,238 have come since December 9, and 810 were transit passengers travelling to other States. Information regarding 810 passengers has been shared with respective States,” the Minister said. Interestingly, the media bulletin till Sunday stated that 2,173 UK returnees have been tested through RT-PCR and other methods so far. This number is higher than the total arrivals of 2,127 as mentioned in the bulletin.

A similar confusion prevailed in the number of U.K. returnees who are yet to be traced. While both Health Commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey and BBMP authorities said 50 persons are yet to be traced, the Minister said 75 persons were yet to be traced. Of these, 72 are from Bengaluru alone, he said.

Attributing these differing versions to lack of coordination in the Health Department, sources said transparency and consistency in data is vital, especially during a pandemic. However, on Monday, the numbers were aligned with the Minister’s version.

Still not traceable

Meanwhile, 13 days after all flights to the country from the United Kingdom were stopped, Karnataka is still struggling to trace the 75 U.K. returnees. Sources said this is a matter of serious concern as even if one among the missing returnees is a carrier of the new strain there is a possibility of a spike. The new strain has a high rate of transmissibility/ infectivity.

However, experts said there is no need to panic as no cluster infections have been reported so far. “We will have to wait and watch for cluster infections and initiate immediate measures to ensure that there is no further spread,” said V. Ravi, nodal officer for genetic confirmation for SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka and member of State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).

“I think we will tide over this as all those who have been found to be positive through genome sequencing had been isolated soon after their RT-PCR reports were positive. If the new strain is in the community, we should have seen a surge by now. But there is a need to further intensify contact tracing and testing to ensure that no case is missed,” he said.

The Health Minister reiterated on Monday that the Home department and BBMP have been trying to trace the missing returnees. “Tracing has been delayed as the 75 include some foreign nationals who may not have local contact numbers and addresses. Their details have been collected from immigration department. The Home Department has assured us that all would be traced soon so that they can be tested,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 6:49:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/error-in-data-on-uk-returnees-rectified/article33496725.ece

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