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Chennai passenger returning from UK gets COVID-19, samples sent to check if new strain

With the emergence of a new mutant coronavirus strain in the UK, the samples of the passenger have now been sent to NIV Pune to identify the strain of the virus.

A passenger who arrived at the Chennai Domestic Airport from the United Kingdom via Delhi has tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday. Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan, confirming the positive case of COVID-19, said that the samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune to identify if it is the new strain of virus spreading in the UK.

Addressing reporters at Chennai airport, Radhakrishnan said, “This may not be the COVID-19 strain reported from the UK but we have sent the sample to NIV, Pune to identify the type of strain. So we will announce based on the findings. Among the 533 passengers on the Delhi flight, we tested eight people of whom one has tested positive. We have placed 15 passengers under quarantine and moved the passenger with COVID-19 to King’s Institute, Guindy.”

After the UK reported a new strain of virus that is spreading more rapidly than the earlier novel coronavirus strain, several countries, including India, have suspended flight operations to and from the country.

The Tamil Nadu Health Secretary also said that passengers arriving from foreign countries as well as inter-state travellers should undertake home quarantine. “If the passengers are coming from a foreign country, they should take an RT-PCR test 96 hours prior to travel, based on the recommendation of health experts. Even if the passengers test negative, they might have picked up the infection during travel, that’s why we’re conducting tests for passengers who returned from the UK in the last 10 days, like a saturation test was undertaken in IIT-M,” he said.

Talking to Puthiyathalaimurai, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Vijayabaskar said, “We have received the list of people who returned to Chennai via various transit points from the United Kingdom through an auto-generated e-pass. So, we’re monitoring 1,088 people who returned in the past 10 days. We’re also monitoring the borders with Kerala and Karnataka. Hence, the public need not panic.”