Haradag Khurd, a village in the Garhwa District of Jharkhand has been put on high alert post the detection of as many as 21 COVID-19 positive cases in a short span of two days after the return of migrant workers from Madhya Pradesh, officials declared on Friday.
All 21 villagers, including eight children in the age group of 2 and 12 years have been admitted to Sadar Hospital, Garhwa and all of the primary contactees have been isolated.
One worker among the returnees from a Madhya Pradesh colliery area where the Delta plus variant of the contagion has been detected was initially found suffering from coronavirus and it’s suspected that the villagers might have caught the infection from him.
"Initially 19 villagers were found positive. All of them have been admitted to Garhwa Sadar hospital. We are taking all possible steps to contain the spread of the virus and have kept officials on high alert in the area," Jharkhand Additional Chief Secretary, Health, Arun Kumar Singh told PTI.
Garhwa civil surgeon said two more have tested positive taking the tally of 21.
A total of 5,126 people have so far lost their lives due to contagion in Jharkhand which is battling the deadly second wave of COVID-19.
The state has been witnessing fewer new positive cases, but the detection of 21 cases in a short period in the Garhwa village has raised concerns among the health officials.
"Our surveillance team is visiting villages and we are taking all possible steps to contain the spread...Special precautions are taken in the village Haradag Khurd with a population of about 300 villagers," Garhwa Deputy Commissioner Rajesh Kumar Pathak told PTI.
“The sample of migrant labourer Awadhesh Vishwakarma was found to be positive in the report and he was traced to village Haradag Khurd.” Civil Surgeon, Garhwa, Dr. Kamlesh Kumar said during the course routine sample collection at the railway station,
"The health machinery swung into action and 25 persons including all his family members were subjected to tests along with two other families with whom he interacted. Twenty people were found to be positive including the migrant worker and eight children who are in the age group of 2-12 years," the Civil Surgeon told PTI.
Officials said if required the samples would be sent to Regional Genome Sequencing Laboratory (RGSL), Institute of Life Sciences (ILS) Bhubaneshwar for Whole genomic sequencing (WGS) as Jharkhand at present does not have the machine for Genome sequencing.
WGS is a laboratory process that is used to determine nearly all the approximately 3 billion nucleotides of an individual’s complete DNA sequence, including non-coding sequence which is instrumental in characterising the mutations and tracking disease outbreaks.
Last month, alarmed by new coronavirus strains like Delta and Alpha afflicting 328 people, the state government had ordered sending samples of patients within 48 hours of their death for genetic study to help evolve a strategy to contain the spreading of the virus.
Battling the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 that has claimed 5,126 lives in Jharkhand, the state government is concerned as the variants like Delta, Alpha, and Kappa are said to be more transmissible.
Of the 328 positive cases last month, 194 cases were of Delta variant B.1.617.2 which is a "variant of concern". A variant can be labelled as "of concern" if it is more contagious, more deadly, or more resistant to current vaccines and treatments, the World Health Organisation has said.
Twenty-nine cases were found to be of B.1.617.1 variant which has been named Kappa while 29 cases were of B.1.1.7 Alpha variant. The Alpha variant is also a strain "of concern" as it spreads more rapidly than the original strain.
Chief Minister Hemant Soren has been stressing that even though the rate of recovery is more than 98% in the state, the danger is not over.
"According to experts, the third wave may trouble us in six to eight weeks and the state government has made preparations for it but it would not be possible without the help of people", he has said.