UK returnee tests positive for coronavirus, creates panic after taking train to AP

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A 47-year-old woman from Andhra Pradesh, who tested positive for the coronavirus in Delhi after arriving from the United Kingdom, has triggered panic among the people of her hometown in Andhra Pradesh’s Rajahmundry. The woman was one among several passengers arriving from the UK who had tested positive for the coronavirus. The woman, accompanied by her 22-year-old son, took a train back to Rajahmundry, instead of remaining under isolation in Delhi. The woman has since been traced by police and health officials and placed under quarantine at the East Godavari district COVID-19 hospital in Rajahmundry. 

Also read: Explained: What we know of the new mutant strain of coronavirus in UK

The woman, who is a private school teacher from the Hukumpeta area of Rajahmundry, landed in Delhi on Monday night. After testing positive through a rapid antigen test, she was reportedly sent to Safdarjung hospital in Delhi along with her son. After testing positive in an RT-PCR test conducted at the hospital, according to reports, hospital authorities advised her to remain under home isolation, after which she boarded a train to Rajahmundry.

However, the exact instructions she received at the hospital in Delhi are not known. East Godavari District Coordinator for Health Services Dr T Ramesh Kishore told TNM that the woman has claimed that she was advised to remain under home quarantine by hospital authorities. There have been similar reports of other COVID-19 patients from the UK being advised home isolation as a result of miscommunication

Andhra Pradesh health officials were reportedly informed by authorities in Delhi about her case, and on finding that the woman and her son had left for their hometown by train, police and health officials traced her on her arrival in Rajahmundry on Wednesday night. The woman has now been sent to quarantine at the Rajahmundry government hospital.

Addressing fears over the new variant of the virus, Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas (Nani) on Thursday said that so far, the new variant has not yet been detected in the state. He said that the Rajahmundry woman’s sample has been sent to NIV Pune, for confirmation on the variant of the virus, and results are expected within 2-3 days.

Also read: Andhra Pradesh to trace, test and quarantine all UK returnees

While test results from NIV Pune are still awaited, the incident has triggered panic, since the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 identified in the UK recently has been found to have much higher transmissibility, and there are fears that the woman may have infected fellow passengers during the train journey. Addressing these concerns, Ramesh Kishore said, “They had travelled in a first class AC coach which was not very crowded. Our concern is about the catering staff who might have come in contact, but they were already taking precautions, and we have cautioned the railway authorities.”