Mutant virus: UP health officials trying to trace UK returnees face switched-off phone hurdle

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Lucknow, Dec 24 (PTI) The Uttar Pradesh Health Department is facing an uphill task of connecting to those who have recently returned from the UK, where a new variant of the coronavirus has been detected, as many of them have switched off their mobile phones.

Passenger flights between India and the United Kingdom have been suspended from Wednesday till December 31 or till further orders in the wake of the emergence of the mutated strain of the virus.

Also, the Centre has advised states to ensure that passengers from the UK should undergo RT-PCR test and be isolated in a separate unit of an institutional facility if found positive.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Lucknow Sanjay Bhatnagar on Thursday said, 'The central government has provided a list of those returning from the UK to Uttar Pradesh, including those coming to the state capital. But it only mentions their phone numbers. Efforts are on to contact them but most of them have switched off their phones.' Many have been traced and efforts are on to connect with others them, the CMO said.

A senior official of the Health department said an alert has been sounded in all the states.

'The list received by Uttar Pradesh from the Centre mentions phone number of about four dozen passengers who arrived here from the United Kingdom since Novmeber 24. But it does not have their addresses. Phone calls to most of the mobile numbers are either not being received or are switched off,' the official said.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said that those who came to the state from abroad between November 25 and December 8 should undergo tests for detection of COVID-19.

He also directed compulsory RT PCR tests of all those who came to the state after December 9.

'We have to remain alert keeping in mind new strain of coronavirus. All those who came to the state from abroad between November 25 and December 8 should be tested and compulsory RT-PCR test should be done for those coming after December 9,' the chief minister was quoted as saying in a statement. PTI ZIR SAB NSD