Eight tourists from Chinsurah of Hooghly district were isolated at a resort run by the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation (WBFDC) at Rajabhatkhawa of Alipurduar district after it was found that three of them had travelled from the UK in the flight with the youth who tested positive for the mutant Covid strain around 10 days back.
Paramedics of the district health department collected their samples — as well as those of five resort employees — for tests. While reports of the rapid antigen tests came back negative, those of the RT-PCR tests are awaited, said Girish Chandra Bera, the chief medical officer of health of Alipurduar.
Sources said the trio, after reaching their Chinsurah home from the UK, left for the Dooars on December 28 with five others. The group comprises three men, four women and a six-year-old. On December 29, they checked into the WBFDC resort in Rajabhatkhawa of the Buxa Tiger Reserve.
After the youth tested positive for the new SARS-CoV-2 variant, state health department officials started getting details of his co-passengers.
“On Wednesday, they came to know that three such co-passengers reached Rajabhatkhawa. They immediately alerted the district health department here,” said the source.
Alipurduar health officials acted promptly and reached the resort on Thursday morning to collect samples from the group and from five resort employees. “The property has been sealed and all 13 have been asked to stay in. A team has been posted at the entrance to ensure no one enters or gets out of the property,” the source added.
As the news spread, tourism stakeholders sounded worried. Biswajit Saha, president of Alipurduar District Tourism Association, said they asked lodge owners to check the travel history of guests and follow health safety protocols.
“The tourism industry has just started getting back on track and we have to ensure that we do not get exposed to risks like these,” said Saha.