37 UK Returnees Test Covid-19 Positive in Goa, Placed Under Institutional Quarantine

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Thirty-seven passengers out of 979, who travelled from the UK from December 9 till the midnight of December 22, have tested positive for Covid-19 in Goa. The state government awaits reports from Pune's National Institute of Virology for confirmation of the mutant strain among the Covid-19 positive passengers.

A senior official attached to the Directorate of Health Services said all the 37 passengers, along with about a dozen persons who had come in contact with the UK in Goa, have been placed in an institutional quarantine facility, the Employees State Insurance hospital, located in South Goa.

"Testing and contact tracing of all the 979 passengers is almost complete. The patients as well as the persons who they came in contact with, have been admitted to institutional quarantine as a precautionary measure," the official said.

The government had announced a temporary ban on flights coming from the UK commencing from 11.59 p.m. on December 22, in the wake of a new fast-spreading mutated strain of coronavirus which had gripped the island nation and had gone into lockdown mode since.

The official said that nearly all the 979 passengers, who had arrived in Goa in the days before the flight ban came into place, were NRIs returning to their native homes in the coastal state for Christmas festivities.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said the Goa government was awaiting test reports from the Pune-based Central government facility, for the possible presence of the new coronavirus strain in the samples drawn from the UK returnees who had tested positive for Covid-19 in RT-PCR tests.

"In the meantime, we have decided to keep them in institutional isolation. Barring the condition of one person, the condition of the others is well," Sawant said.

According to Nilesh Shah president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, the ban on flights from the UK was a setback to the industry but added that the manner in which the Goa government went about with locating the passengers and contact tracing efforts made was worth appreciation.

"Overall, the situation has been handled well. The passengers returning from the UK have been identified and tested, sending a good signal," Shah told IANS.

Goa currently has 955 active Covid-19 cases, while 734 persons have died in the state after testing positive. In all, 50,772 Covid-19 cases have been reported in the state.