Bihar health dept seeks police aid to locate missing UK returnees to check new Covid-19 strain

The Bihar health department has sought police help to track down some “missing” returnees from the United Kingdom to test them for the new strain of coronavirus.

The decision to seek police help was taken after state health officials could not trace 45 passengers, who could not be reached on the contact numbers and addresses provided through the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA). In some cases, they had left their destinations and either returned or travelled to other locations, said health officials.

The ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) had sent a list of 226 passengers, along with their mobile numbers, who reached the state between November 21 and December 21. Of the total incoming passengers, 101 of the 181 passengers traced till December 30 had tested negative for the virus, according to Khalid Arshad, administrative officer of the State Health Society, Bihar (SHSB).

Around 97 passengers are from Patna, five from Rohtas, seven from Aurangabad, three from Buxar and one from Kaimur among others.

Of the 17 passengers, who went to Gaya, two could not be located, while one had left for Sweden, two to Jamshedpur and one to Ranchi. Ten others had tested negative and one test report was pending, said Dr KK Rai, Gaya’s civil surgeon.

“We have intimated the Jharkhand government about the UK returnees in Jamshedpur and Ranchi. We have requested Gaya’s senior superintendent of police (SSP) to help us locate two others in the district who are not responding to our phone calls,” said Dr Rai.

Nineteen of the 97 UK returnees to Patna are untraceable, while 25 others were reported to be out of Bihar. Samples of 19 out of the 53 collected had tested negative till Saturday, while others are pending, said officials.

“Our officials found it difficult to trace some passengers who had moved from the address provided to us, prompting us to seek police help to locate them so that we can collect their swab samples for real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), a confirmatory test for Covid-19. We are writing to Patna’s SSP about it,” said Dr Vibha Kumari Singh, Patna’s civil surgeon.

Patna’s SSP Upendra Sharma, however, said he was not aware about any such list.

“The list has not reached me as yet; it may be in transit. We were initially helping (the health officials) in contact tracing of Covid-19 patients. If required, we will try and help locate the UK returnees,” said Sharma.

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