New COVID strain: Karnataka imposes restrictions, many states focus on tracing passengers returning from UK

·4-min read

Bengaluru/New Delhi, Dec 23 (PTI) Karnataka on Wednesday joined Maharashtra in imposing restrictions amid concerns over a new COVID-19 variant spreading in the UK as authorities in many states focussed on tracing passengers returning from Britain.

The Karnataka government said night curfew will be in force between 11 pm and 5 am from December 24 till January 1 but midnight mass will be allowed.

In the national capital, 11 passengers on four flights from the UK were found positive for COVID-19 when tested on arrival at the Delhi airport, said Gauri Agarwal, founder of the Genestrings Diagnostic Centre which is handling coronavirus testing of all passengers at the airport.

She said 50 passengers of these four flights have been put under institutional quarantine.

The government on Monday had directed testing of all passengers coming from the UK on arrival at Indian airports. It issued a stringent set of SOPs mandating RT-PCR tests at airports for each traveller from the country and isolation in a separate unit of an institutional facility for positive cases.

India suspended all passenger flights connecting the UK from Wednesday till December 31 or till further orders.

Amid concerns over the new coronavirus strain, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan reviewed in a meeting held through video conferencing the status of passengers coming from the UK and found positive in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Goa, Punjab, Gujarat and Kerala.

Delhi Health Minister said people who have arrived in Delhi from the UK are being rigorously traced and tested for any COVID-19-like symptoms.

He asserted that the coronavirus situation in the city is under control with the positivity rate plummeting to below one per cent.

Interacting with reporters, Jain said the suspension of flights to and from the United Kingdom was a prompt move by the Centre and will help in containing the spread of the new coronavirus strain detected in that country.

'We are alert and watchful at our end. People who have arrived here from the UK in the last several days are being rigorously traced and tested for slightest of COVID-like symptoms,' Jain said.

'A team has been made and house-to-house tracing is being done... they (UK returnees) are being advised self-isolation too,' he added.

Midnight mass on December 24 in Karnataka on account of Christmas can be held without any obstruction, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said.

His government has asked organisers and supervisors at churches to ensure that a large number of people don't gather at a time and social distancing is maintained. It has also prohibited parties, special DJ dance programmes and special events at clubs, pubs, restaurants and other places that attract people in large numbers without social distancing from December 30 to January 2.

Yediyurappa said all those travelling to the state and arriving at Bengaluru or Mangaluru airports from abroad must have an RT-PCR COVID-19 negative certificate which should have been obtained 72 hours before their departure time.

Health Minister K Sudhakar said all those who have arrived in the state from the UK since November 25, will be mandatorily monitored for 28 days, adding they have to quarantine themselves.

A total of 2,500 people have come to the state since November 25 to December 22 in two flights - Air India and British Airways.

About reports that a couple of people who have come from the UK have tested positive, the Minister said information is still awaited as tests are being done.

Neighbouring Maharashtra on Monday had declared a night curfew in municipal corporation areas as a precautionary step amid growing concerns over a new coronavirus variant spreading in Britain.

The Dehradun administration has banned collective celebrations like parties at hotels, bars, restaurants and other public places on Christmas, New Year's Eve and New Year to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Any violation of the ban will be punishable under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the Epidemic Diseases Act and other relevant sections of the IPC, said an order issued by Dehradun District Magistrate Ashish Shrivastava.

The ban will have its effect in Dehradun, Mussoorie and Rishikesh where a large number of tourists come to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

The Madhya Pradesh health department has asked 33 people who returned to Indore from the UK in the last 15 days to remain in home isolation.

Indore district nodal officer for COVID-19 prevention, Amit Malakar, said these 33 people were being tested by RT-PCR method.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged the people to exercise extreme caution and strictly follow all COVID safety norms amid reports of the new strain of the virus spreading in some parts of the world. The last flight that landed in Amritsar from the UK on Tuesday had reported 8 positive cases, he said, hoping that the new strain of the virus had not entered Punjab. PTI KSU BN HWP ADU MAS DSP ALM VSD KND PLB ZMN