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Punjab: 216 UK Travellers to Be Institutionally Quarantined after 7 Passengers, Cabin Crew Member Test Positive

A person wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) carries luggage at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport in New Delhi. (Reuters)

A person wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) carries luggage at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport in New Delhi. (Reuters)

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As many as 216 people who arrived here 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 on Thursday. They are from different places, including Amritsar, and are being taken from their homes to quarantine centres, they said.

Punjab's Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on Thursday directed all civil surgeons to ensure tracing, surveillance and testing of international passengers who recently arrived from the UK. Sidhu in a statement said a list of 1,822 passengers who arrived from the UK at the Delhi airport and then to Punjab has been received by the state authorities, which he added has already been shared with all districts. He said 1,550 UK passengers arrived at the Amritsar international airport but details of only 709 were received from the airport authority while details of 841 passengers were awaited for further action.

The Air India flight from London had arrived at Amritsar's Sri Guru Ramdas Jee International Airport on Tuesday with 250 passengers and 22 crew members, and eight people tested positive for coronavirus. The health officials said all of them had undergone the RT-PCR test and were found negative, except eight, but the step to institutionally quarantine 216 people has been taken to ensure maximum safety as per the Punjab government guidelines.

India has suspended all passenger flights from the UK till December 31 in the wake of the emergence of a mutated variant of coronavirus there. Moreover, passengers coming from the UK through flights till Tuesday midnight were tested for COVID-19 on arrival at airports. Civil Surgeon Dr Ravinder Singh Sethi said on Thursday, "Eight passengers (including a crew member) on their arrival had tested positive for coronavirus after RT-PCR tests. They were shifted to a private hospital here as per their choice.

Their samples have been sent for further tests to a Pune laboratory, he said. "Later the administration found that as many as 216 passengers could have come in contact with the eight positive passengers and now we have decided to quarantine them institutionally following guidelines from the Punjab government, he said.

He said, Ten of the 216 passengers are from Amritsar and they are being taken to quarantine centres from their houses today. The he rest of the passengers who are from different districts are also being taken from their houses, he said, adding deputy commissioners and civil surgeons of their districts have been informed and the process has been initiated on a war footing.

Sethi said earlier those tested negative were allowed to go home.