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Covid tests for 700 from 3 UK flights

State govt setting up a separate facility at Beleghata ID Hospital, if more people are detected with the UK strain
Health department officials said they were contacting all the passengers and crew members to get their tests done.

Sanjay Mandal   |   Calcutta   |   Published 31.12.20, 01:15 AM

The state government will conduct Covid tests of 700 passengers and crew members of three Air India flights from London that arrived in Calcutta since November 30, after the mutated strain of coronavirus that was first detected in the UK, was found in the sample of one of the passengers, who had arrived in the city on December 20.

The government, as part of the preparedness, is setting up a separate facility at ID Hospital, Beleghata if more people are detected with the UK strain.

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The 700 include 220 passengers and 12 crew members of the December 20 flight on which the passenger, a youth, had come to the city, said state health department officials.

The passenger was admitted at the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital where he was kept in isolation. The youth is the son of a senior official of the hospital, said health department sources.

“He has been kept under observation and his condition is stable. The patient is asymptomatic,” said an official of the health department.

On Air India’s December 20 flight from Heathrow, of the 222 passengers, 25 had boarded from London without getting their Covid-19 tests done, said officials of the state government. All underwent the tests at Calcutta airport and reports of two had come positive. Their swab samples were sent to the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in Kalyani for genetic analysis based on the new protocol set by the ministry of health.

The samples were then sent for retesting at the National Centre For Disease Control, Delhi, where the mutated strain was detected in the samples of the youth.

The government on Wednesday morning, had asked Air India to send details of all the passengers and crew members of the three flights. The airline sent the details in the afternoon. “The seat mapping which shows which passenger was seated where, has also been sent to the state government,” said an Air India official.

Health department officials said they were contacting all the passengers and crew members to get their tests done.

“The tests will be first conducted at the Covid-19 testing facilities in the city and if some of the samples come positive, then those would be sent for further genetic analysis at the Kalyani institute. The testing process will start from Thursday,” said a senior official of the health department. In the meantime, all 700 would be advised to stay in isolation.

If someone tests positive, only then, their close contacts would be tested, said officials.

“In the December 20 flight, since two of the 222 passengers have already been tested, we’ll be conducting tests for the rest of the passengers and crew members,” said an official.

VUI-202012/01, the new variant of Sars-Cov-2, is said to be more contagious by experts.

Although health department officials said there was no reason for panic in Bengal at this moment, preparedness has started in case more people are detected with the new strain.

A separate facility for such patients is being created at ID Hospital, Beleghata.

“A 50-bed unit is being set up in a separate building at ID Hospital, Beleghata for such patients. If required, more beds can be added there," said an official.



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