Tamil Nadu

3 from abroad test positive in T.N.

A scene at the holding centre at the Chennai airport, where passengers wait for their RT-PCR results. Photograph used for representational purposes only   | Photo Credit: VELANKANNI RAJ B

Three travellers, who returned to Tamil Nadu from Singapore and the United Kingdom, have been isolated in government hospitals after they tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival in the State.

While their samples have been sent for genomic sequencing to identify the variant involved, their family members, co-passengers seated in front of and behind them on their flights and the aircrew are being tested and kept in quarantine, Health Minister Ma. Subramanian said.

A man, who arrived at the Tiruchi airport, tested positive for COVID-19. He was isolated in a special ward at the K.A.P. Viswanathan Government Medical College Hospital. At the Chennai airport, a 10-year-old, who had arrived from the U.K. with his family, tested positive.

The Minister, who along with Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan, visited the patients on Friday evening, said doctors had said that all of them were asymptomatic and doing well. He said the results of the genomic sequencing of their samples would be available in four to five days.

“We are testing passengers who were seated on the front and back rows in the flights. The flight staff are also being tested. All contacts, family members and air-hostesses are already in quarantine. We are handling the situation with utmost precaution,” he said.

False news

The Minister said false news was being circulated online that two persons had tested positive for the Omicron variant in the State. All details would be released in a transparent manner, he said.

Travellers from ‘at-risk’ countries like the U.K., South Africa, Hong Kong, Botswana and Israel are being subjected to screening for fever and RT-PCR testing on arrival at the four international airports in the State. If they test negative for COVID-19, they should be under home quarantine for seven days, and adherence to these norms is being monitored by the Health Department, in coordination with the police and the local bodies.

Apart from this, 2% of travellers from other countries are being randomly tested at the four airports for the past three days. A total of 2,925 travellers, who arrived in 18 flights from ‘at-risk’ countries, have been tested so far. Of the 10,736 passengers who arrived in 59 flights from non-risk countries, 341 people (2%) have been randomly tested. All 341 have tested negative for COVID-19.

RT-PCR costs

The Minister said the government would bear the cost of testing for the 2% of travellers from non-risk countries who are being randomly tested. The cost of RT-PCR testing was ₹700, he said, adding that the government was ready to bear the cost of testing for those coming from ‘at-risk’ countries and were economically backward.

Holding areas have been earmarked at the four airports where passengers can wait till their RT-PCR test results arrive. If any traveller tests positive, they will be isolated at the government medical college hospital. Special wards, comprising 30 to 40 beds with oxygen facilities and ventilators, have been set up at six government hospitals — the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, the Government Omandurar Medical College Hospital and the Government Corona Hospital in Chennai; the Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai, and the government medical college hospitals in Tiruchi and Coimbatore.

“There is no need to be afraid, but we need to stay cautious. Omicron is said to have higher transmissibility than the Delta variant,” the Minister said.

The Health Secretary said the State had 3.25 lakh ‘Thermo TaqPath’ kits to detect the presence of the Omicron variant in SARS-CoV-2 samples. “We have placed orders for another 85,000 kits,” he said. He said the State was rigorously monitoring international travellers, enhancing testing and monitoring hotspots in the State. “No other State is performing 1 lakh RT-PCR tests a day, though daily cases have dropped to 700. We have given instructions to increase testing further. In Chennai, 10,000 to 15,000 tests should be done, he said.

Mega vaccination camp

The 13th mega COVID-19 vaccination camp will be held on Saturday at 50,000 places. The Health Minister said the State was nearing 80% first dose coverage and 45% second dose coverage. Over 80 lakh people were due for the second dose, he said, adding that all those due for the second dose should come forward and get vaccinated at the mega camp.



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Printable version | Jan 23, 2022 9:06:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/two-travellers-from-singapore-uk-test-covid-19-positive-in-tn-samples-sent-for-genomic-sequencing/article37818941.ece

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