New virus strains may pose fresh challenge

Return of people from Covid-affected countries may spring unpleasant surprises | Home ministry issues advisory
New virus strains may pose fresh challenge

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The return of expatriates from Thursday could spring unexpected surprises and pose new challenges to Kerala’s fight against Covid-19. Scores of people coming from all over the globe, including West Asia and other affected countries, may lead to new and different strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus reaching the state. The Union Home Ministry has already issued guidelines in this regard, on the basis of which the state is finalising its plan of action. A senior official told TNIE the government has not discounted the possibility of people getting affected with different strains of coronavirus.

“The MHA advisory deals with this possibility. Testing and quarantine will take care of the threat. The plan of action doesn’t vary, irrespective of the virus strain,” he said. As per reports, three strains of the virus — one from Wuhan, China, and the other two from Italy and Iran — have been detected in the country till date. The spread is generally on predicted lines, with symptoms surfacing within 14 days. Going by the pattern, the state has been able to manage the situation. However, given the possibility of different strains sneaking in, the inflow of expats could lead to a few surprises. Lack of testing in the countries of origin adds to the worries. “In the case of Covid, we can’t reject any possibility,” said Dr Amar Fettle, the state nodal officer for infectious diseases. 

“It’s behaviour and rate of infection can’t be predicted. That’s why surveillance is important.” 
According to the government plan, those coming from outside are put in quarantine. Everyone will be tested irrespective of symptoms. Since there are no medicines, only symptomatic treatment is given.
Finance Minister Thomas Isaac, who hinted recently at a possible second wave, said the state is prepared fully to deal with such a scenario.

“The incubation period could be different. But we will learn by dealing with it. So far, we have put suspected people in quarantine and only those in quarantine or isolation have tested positive. Kerala has contained the threat with the cheapest model, and is prepared to handle any emerging scenario,” he said.

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