Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh government has issued a Covid-19 order to subject all travellers from the UK to undergo RT-PCR test
As per the order, those who test Covid-19 negative will be cleared but will have to observe 14 days of mandatory home quarantine.
Passengers travelling directly from the UK through connecting flights and those who entered the country from other means of transport will be screened and tested.
Commissioner for health and family welfare K. Bhaskar said that orders were issued to collectors and SPs to keep track of those who were coming from abroad and take preventive measures.
Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy while charging the review meet said, “We should be cautious to ensure that no new strain affects citizens adversely.”
Meanwhile, the mortality rate stood at 0.81 per cent in the state.
As per the government’s strategy, surveillance teams will take up physical monitoring of all those who test Covid-19 negative in RT-PCR test and under home isolation and also will ensure follow-up RT-PCR test after seven days of disembarkation. In case, any one develops symptoms before completion of seven days, he or she will be shifted to a hospital for a test immediately.
Field surveillance teams comprising a medical officer and an ANM will visit the international travellers on a daily basis. The status will also be updated on the home quarantine app.
State likely to resume screening of all air passengers
The State government may have to resume screening of air passengers at its four airports as a precautionary measure in the wake of the highly infectious strain of coronavirus in the United Kingdom.
Though India has imposed a ban on arrival of flights from the UK from midnight on Tuesday, a flight which arrived at Delhi airport from London on Monday night, was found to have carried five passengers infected with Covid-19, indicating the chance of a spread of the virus.
State health authorities maintain that it might have taken at least two months for the British government to confirm discovery of the new strain of the virus following observations of gradual spike in Covid-19 positive cases and resultant deaths in parts of the UK. They say that those who visited the UK during the two months period and travelled to other countries and finally intended to reach their home town in Andhra Pradesh, find a chance of carrying the virus or not and some of them may even be asymptomatic even if infected with the virus.
The authorities say that passengers flying in international flights and landing in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai airports and from there catching domestic flights and reaching Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati and Rajahmundry may become super-spreaders of the virus until they know their health status.
Though the Union Government has made it mandatory for all passengers arriving from the UK in all transit flights to undergo RTPCR test on arrival at the airports itself and if found positive be sent to institutional quarantine and if found negative, to be advised for home isolation for seven days, the AP government has to keep monitoring closely on both the positive and negative cases. Moreover, it also faces a tough task to handle those who test negative and subsequently turn positive and asymptomatic, as they pose the danger of becoming super-spreaders of the virus.
In this backdrop, the state health authorities suggest resuming of screening of air passengers like it was during the peak Covid period. On the other hand, the number of arrival/departure of air passengers at all the four airports in the state is gradually rising to pre-Covid days. In Visakhapatnam airport, the passenger arrivals was 1.40 lakh in November and 1.60 lakh in December and on an average 2.20 lakh passengers were arriving in a month on domestic flights.
Visakhapatnam airport director M. Raj Kishore said, “We are ready to facilitate screening of passengers for Covid-19 if asked to do so in the wake of finding a new strain of virus in the UK.”
In Vijayawada airport, international flights under Vande Bharat Mission are arriving and this underlines the need for screening for Covid-19.
In Tirupati airport, on an average 30,000 passengers are arriving/departing on domestic flights in a month.
In Rajahmundry airport, 22,500 passengers arrived in November while 18,000 came this month till Tuesday.
The Airport Authority of India authorities maintain that once they get guidelines from the Union ministry of home affairs or from Union ministry of civil aviation, they will go by it with regard to screening of passengers for Covid-19 in airports.
A senior health official from the state said, “We may have to resume screening of air passengers at our airports as some passengers move from one nation to another mainly in Europe. Their return may cause spread of the new variant in case they are infected.”...