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Coronavirus check: government to track down air travellers

‘35 blood samples from state test negative’
The state government had sent 35 blood samples to ICMR-National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in Beleghata and to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for the novel coronavirus-19 test.

Kinsuk Basu   |   Calcutta   |   Published 07.03.20, 08:39 PM

The health department has obtained from the airport authorities a list of passengers who reached Bengal in the past few days from countries hit by the coronavirus.

Efforts are on to trace them to their address and those who have been traced are being told by health workers that they should quarantine themselves for a fortnight, a health department official said.

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Once an address is fixed, a health worker from the local civic body will visit the person’s house and tell him/her why it is important to stay quarantined, the official said. A health worker will keep checking the person’s health condition — by visiting him in person or speaking to him on phone — for two weeks.

During this period, if the person shows any of the suspected symptoms of coronavirus, the health worker will immediately alert the civic body for action, the official said.

At least 64 such passengers across the state have been kept under surveillance at home, according to health department information till Saturday morning.

A list with their names and addresses have been handed over to health officials across various municipalities and corporations.

Between Friday and Saturday morning, three passengers have been kept in isolation wards in various hospitals in the city.

If a person is found to be free of any complication — fever with respiratory distress — he will be advised to keep a check on his health for the next 14 days and report any change in his condition to the local civic body.

“In Calcutta, civic health officials will visit the house of a passenger and explain to him/her the need for surveillance,” a health department official said. “Health officials have been asked not to press the panic button. They will simply tell the person why quarantine is necessary and how to go about it.”

The period of home surveillance for passengers flying in from countries hit by the coronavirus was fixed at 28 days. The advisory for hospitals, state-run or private, as well as medical colleges specified 28 days as the quarantine period. It was scaled down to 14 days recently following a World Health Organisation report.

“The World Health Organisation was not sure of the window period for a coronavirus attack to show up; so, we had decided on 28 days to be safe. Now, 14 days is enough. We have alerted all hospitals, medical colleges and civic bodies accordingly,” the health department official said. “We are advising people to stay very alert about their health condition for the remaining 14 days.”

The state government had sent 35 blood samples to ICMR-National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in Beleghata and to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for the novel coronavirus-19 test.

All have tested negative, the health department official said on Saturday. “This will be a continuous process. We will keep carrying out tests while telling everyone not to panic.”



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