2 Kashmiris returning from UK suspected of carrying new COVID19 variant

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Two people from Kashmir who arrived in Srinagar from the United Kingdom on Friday tested positive for COVID19 today, triggering panic that they may be infected with the new variant being reported from many parts of Europe.

On Saturday, samples of two passengers arriving from the UK at Srinagar Airport were reported positive. These people, residents of Srinagar, have been quarantined at JLNM Hospital. Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo, said there was no need to panic and adequate measures had been put in place for ensuring detection of the ‘new variant’ of COVID19. “The samples of the passengers arriving from the UK have been sent to National Center for Disease Control (NCDC) New Delhi. Till the reports are available we cannot term these people positive for the new variant of COVID19,” he said.

The reports, he said, would take a week. “They have been quarantined as a precautionary measure,” he added. The FC said two more passengers arriving from the UK to Jammu had tested positive for COVID19 earlier this month. However, he said, their samples tested negative for the new variant adding that the process of ruling out new variant infection in passengers arriving from Europe will be a regular exercise.

An official said that 10 people who had arrived from various parts of Europe at Jammu and found COVID19 positive were currently quarantined. He said their samples had been sent for testing to NCDC as per protocol devised by J&K Government.

As per the current practice of J&K Government, all people arriving in the UT are subjected to Rapid Antigen Test while the passengers with travel history to UK are tested using RT-PCR test. If found positive, their samples are sent for genome testing to New Delhi.

The two Srinagar residents, Dr Bilquees Shah, Nodal Officer COVID19 at JLNM said, were quarantined Saturday morning as per directions of Divisional Commissioner Kashmir. She said the quarantined were both males and belong to Soura and Habbak areas. GoI has directed the states to quarantine those infected with the new strain in single occupancy facilities. Their close contacts are also to be isolated as per union health ministry.

Meanwhile 6 travelers were found positive for COVID19 in Kashmir division today. Till date, 90 people in India have tested positive for the new strain of COVID19. The new variant of SARS-COV2 has been reported as more virulent. The fast spread of this stain in the UK pushed the Government of the country to impose a fresh lockdown while many countries including India temporarily suspended flights to the country. The flights, half the earlier number, have been resumed earlier this week.