Govt Gears Up To Meet New Corona Strain Challenge

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  KO File Photo: Abid Bhat

Srinagar: As United Kingdom and several European countries are battling with the rapidly spreading new coronavirus strain, the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday ordered immediate screening of travellers who have been to London and Europe in the last two weeks, besides creation of separate quarantine facilities for the travellers and their contacts, in case they test positive.

Chairman District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) Srinagar, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary on Wednesday ordered that all those who have travel history to the UK or any European country in the past two weeks – since December 9 – will have to undergo RT-PCR testing for coronavirus, an official spokesperson said.

Choudhary, who is also District Magistrate Srinagar, he said, ordered for quick establishment of separate quarantine facilities where the travellers and their contacts will be shifted for undergoing the prescribed quarantine period if tested positive. He said the motive behind such measures was to prevent spread of the mutated strain.

According to the official spokesperson, the preventive measures have been taken in line with the advisory issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MHFW) after several European countries detected the mutated strain of coronavirus first reported from the UK.

Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Masarat Hashim, who is the nodal officer Covid-19 mitigation operations Srinagar, informed that two separate institutional quarantine facilities have been set up for travellers from UK and Europe having arrived in Srinagar since December 9.

“He informed that the new quarantine facilities are being set up at Lawaypora and Barbarshah areas adding that while the facility at Lawaypora will be unpaid the facility at Barbarshah will be paid,” Hashim, as per official spokesperson said.

He said that the ADC also informed that even those testing negative will have to isolate themselves at home for a period of two weeks adding that a designated health team will be in constant contact with them to monitor their condition.

“To ensure all required measures are taken in the wake of this new development surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, a team of medical experts from the Department of Social & Preventive Medicine will be advising the DDMA,” he said.

“Samples collected from travellers will be sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune to detect the new strain which is said to be faster-spreading and more transmissible. Those testing positive for the mutated strain and their contacts will be isolated in separate institutional quarantine facilities to prevent spread,” he added.

Meanwhile, Choudhary, as per the official spokesperson, has urged all residents of Srinagar and all those visiting the district for work or other purposes to keep wearing face masks and observing social distancing in order to be safe and prevent spreading of the virus.

“Dr Shahid said that guidelines surrounding these measures are still in force and that there has to be strict adherence to them as long as there is COVID-19 pandemic,” the official spokesperson added.

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