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New COVID strain: Allaying fears, J&K govt says no UK returnee tests positive in Jammu

File photo (KM/Umar Ganie)

Srinagar:  Jammu and Kashmir government has debunked reports that any UK returnee has tested positive in Jammu.

All 10 United Kingdom (UK) returnees have been traced and tested negative in the Jammu district.

 

COVID 19 response coordinator Satish Sharma told The Kashmir Monitor that ten people returned from the UK since December 7.  “We tracked all of them and they have tested negative,” he said.

Sharma said flights have stopped from the UK, but they are testing every passenger, both domestic and foreign, at the Jammu airport. “For domestic tourists, we are conducting Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). However, all foreigners have to undergo Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test,” he said.

All foreigners are sent to home isolation till the RTPCR report comes back negative. “It takes a day for the RTPCR test report to come. We send foreigners to home for isolation pending reports,” he said.

Earlier, all six United Kingdom (UK) returnees in Kashmir tested negative for COVID 19 in both RAT and RT-PCR tests.

Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, PK Pole told The Kashmir Monitor that the people arriving from foreign countries are being tested for COVID 19 at Srinagar airport.

“Six people had arrived from the UK a day before and they were tested for Covid at the airport. Both RAT and RTCPR tests were conducted and their reports came back negative. They have been allowed to go home,” he said.

 A new mutation called VUI 2020 12/01 is circulating in the UK and its transmission has been faster than expected in the last few weeks.  Given the severity of infection, the UK government has extended the lockdown. India has also suspended flights to and from the UK to prevent the spread of infection in the country.

“All foreign returnees are being tested at the airport. There is a possibility that some foreign returnees may have traveled to the UK some time ago. Or some travelers may have traveled with UK returnees. We can’t take any chance. Therefore, all are being tested at the airport. Both RAT and RTPCR tests are conducted. When they test negative for both, they are allowed to go home,” said Pole.

All foreigner returnees are being sent to paid COVID center in Srinagar till their RTCPR reports come back. “Normally RTPCR test takes a day. RAT gives you a report in just five minutes. Till the RTPCR report comes back, the passenger is shifted to a hotel. Once he or she tests negative in RTPCR and RAT, they are allowed to go home,” he said.

Jammu and Kashmir has 119628 positive cases. Of whom 3414  are active positive and 114353 have recovered. The death toll has reached 1861. Of whom 686 have died in the Jammu division and 1175 in the Kashmir division.

Till December 25, 861,964 persons have been enlisted for observation. They include 17,687 persons in-home quarantine, 3,414 in isolation, and 27,858 in-home surveillance. Besides, 811,144 persons have completed their surveillance period.

To date, 36,67,726 tests have been conducted. Of which 35,48,090 samples have tested negative.