Some Dubai returnees test positive despite ‘fit to travel’ stamping

As many as 179 passengers from the UAE landed in a flight from Dubai to Mangaluru on Tuesday.

As many as 179 passengers from the UAE landed in a flight from Dubai to Mangaluru on Tuesday.  

Questions raised over nature of testing in Dubai

With 21 of the 179 passengers from the UAE, who landed in the first Vande Bharat Mission flight from Dubai to Mangaluru on Tuesday, having tested positive for COVID-19, several questions have been raised on whether the testing protocol in Dubai was in order.

All the 179 passengers, including two children, had been screened and tested at the Dubai airport and given a ‘fit to travel’ stamping by the Dubai Health Authority. The 179 passengers include 40 pregnant women and none of them tested positive in the first test.

‘Protocol followed’

Members of the Dubai Anivasi Kannadigaru claimed that all required protocols were followed before the ‘fit to travel’ stamping was issued.

“All those who registered to travel from Dubai to India were screened meticulously and tested using rapid testing strips. Only those who got a ‘fit to travel’ stamping were allowed to board the flight,” Naveed Magundi, president of Dubai Anivasi Kannadigaru and a team member of Kannadigas Helpline there, told The Hindu from Dubai.

Stating that the results have shown 99% accuracy among those who went to Kerala from Dubai, he said, “We do not know what went wrong and if the 21 who tested positive in Karnataka contracted the infection at the airport or during transit.”

Kannadigas Helpline is a team of NRIs who are coordinating to arrange for the travel of those who want to return to India from Dubai.

“We are now in talks with Indian consulate, Mangaluru district administration, and other authorities to handle the situation better. We have also suggested to the Indian consulate that travellers should be tested using the RT-PCR technique before they are allowed to travel,” he said.

Rapid test

V. Ravi, senior professor and head of Neuro Virology at NIMHANS, who is part of the COVID-19 expert committee that is tasked with analysing how the disease infects people, said rapid tests are not meant for diagnosis of COVID-19 infection. “They are meant for surveillance purposes only. While a positive test through rapid testing indicates exposure to the virus 14 days prior to the date of testing, a negative test does not rule out COVID-19 infection,” he said.

“That is why the government has come up with guidelines that all those landing from other countries have to be mandatorily tested through RT-PCR technique and quarantined,” he added.

Passenger from U.S. symptomatic

A repatriation flight of Air India from San Francisco, U.S., landed at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) on Friday morning. The flight had a scheduled stopover at Delhi airport before reaching Bengaluru. A total of 107 stranded people were on it.

Bengaluru Rural Deputy Commissioner P.N. Ravindra told The Hindu that during the mandatory screening at the airport, one passenger was found symptomatic and he was sent to Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases for further tests and treatment. There were 59 male, 49 female passengers (including a pregnant) and a child below the age of 10. “Barring one person, all have been sent to designated institutional quarantine after screening at the airport,” said the official.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 1:45:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/some-dubai-returnees-test-positive-despite-fit-to-travel-stamping/article31596465.ece

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