Odisha yet to trace 27 UK Returnees

So far, 20 people who have returned from the UK to India have tested positive for the new coronavirus strain. Meanwhile, health officials in Odisha have confirmed that 27 UK returnees of the 181 who entered the state between November 30 and December 21 remain untraceable. Dr. Niranjan Mishra, the director of Public Health, has informed that the officials could only trace 154 passengers.

“Though at least 92 of them had given only their phone numbers and vague addresses, we could reach around 65 of them today through persistent efforts. These UK returnees are spread across 18 districts in the state, of which a majority were in Bhubaneswar. There is nothing for these returnees to worry about. We will study their genome sequence and are following the SOP issued by the Centre,” Mishra said.

Prem Chandra Chaudhary, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation commissioner, has said that zone-wise teams have been formed to locate the returnees based on their phone numbers and addresses. “Many people had used their international contact numbers for ticket booking, which is a hurdle in tracing them. By tonight or tomorrow, we will get the entire list of the number of UK returnees and also those accessible or untraceable. We are verifying the list of returnees,” Chaudhary explained.

He further stated that the BMC had gathered a list of 20 travellers who had returned from the UK, of whom only three passengers had tested positive for COVID-19. Their swab units have been sent to Pune for genome sequencing, to analyse whether they had contracted the new COVID variant.

In the meantime, the state government has prepared itself for the COVID-19 vaccination drive by ordering 21 lakh syringes and 26 ice-lined refrigerators to Odisha. Bijay Panigrahi, the Health and family welfare department director and vaccine in-charge has informed that 339 ILRs will be moved into the state in the coming days. About 3.26 lakh health workers have been identified in the state, who would be vaccinated in the first phase.

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