UK COVID strain: Andhra woman gives Delhi airport authorities the slip; Meghalaya bans entry of returnees

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New Delhi/Amaravati, Dec 24 (PTI) As states put in place fresh protocols in view of a new COVID-19 strain spreading in the UK, a coronavirus positive woman allegedly managed to give the slip to authorities in New Delhi after her arrival from London and reached Andhra Pradesh by train only to be picked up by authorities and admitted to a hospital.

Her son, who travelled to Delhi to receive her, has also been admitted to the hospital though he has tested negative, officials said on Thursday, adding their swab samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune to determine whether the woman contracted the new strain of COVID-19.

With report of another flyer from the UK landing in the national capital and then travelling to Punjab, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the city government will approach airport authorities to seek details on these two passengers.

'Flight operations and security are under the airport authorities... But a person who has tested positive, should not have moved out,' Jain said.

The Centre has suspended all flights connecting India and the UK from December 23 till December 31 after the discovery of the new strain of the deadly virus and has directed rigorous testing of those who arrived from England recently.

At least 12 passengers returning from the UK tested positive in Goa and Maharashtra, officials said.

In Meghalaya, entry of individuals from the UK into the state has been barred. The state government has also urged people who have recently returned from Britain or transited through the country to stay in isolation and inform it about their travel history.

Official sources said five people with recent travel history to the UK have been detected in Meghalaya so far, and health workers are currently attending to them.

As many as 216 people who arrived in Amritsar from the UK in a December 22 flight will be institutionally quarantined as they might have come in contact with seven of their fellow passengers and a crew member who tested COVID-19 positive on arrival, health officials said.

They are from different places, including Amritsar, and are being taken from their homes to institutional quarantine centres, they said.

Amid reports that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's visit may not be possible because of the rapidly-spreading mutated version of the coronavirus in the UK, India said it was looking forward to his trip.

Amid high drama, the Andhra Pradesh woman, who reached her hometown Rajamahendravaram after allegedly fleeing from a quarantine facility in New Delhi was apprehended by Railway police and health authorities and admitted to a local hospital after Wednesday midnight.

Deputy Chief Minister A K K Srinivas said preliminary tests on the 47-year-old woman did not reveal the new Covid-19 strain and they were awaiting results from the NIV.

The woman, who was working as a teacher, landed in New Delhi on December 21.

Officials said this is the first instance of a person returning from the UK to Andhra Pradesh after the new coronavirus strain was detected.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka government withdrew its night curfew order, hours before it was to come into effect at 11 pm on Thursday.

In a statement, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said: 'In view of the public opinion that there was no need for night curfew, the decision was reviewed and after consulting with cabinet colleagues and senior officials it has been decided to withdraw the night curfew.' He appealed to the people to exercise self-restraint by wearing facemasks, hand hygiene and social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

In Mumbai, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said night curfew was imposed in the state so that people realise that the danger of COVID-19 is not over.

Eleven passengers in Goa among those who arrived from the UK after December 9 have tested positive for COVID-19 so far. State Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said RT-PCR testing of the total 979 passengers is currently going on.

A 28-year-old man who recently returned from the UK also tested positive for coronavirus in Nagpur. His swab samples have been sent to NIV for further examination.

In Uttar Pradesh, the health department is facing an uphill task of connecting to those who have recently returned from the UK as many of them have switched off their mobile phones.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Lucknow Sanjay Bhatnagar on Thursday the list of passengers received from the Centre mentions phone numbers of about four dozen passengers who arrived from the UK since Novmeber 24.

'But the list 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. PTI DBV RPS CLS JOY GMS MPB MR ZIR SAB KND DSP NES ZMN