HYDERABAD: More than 70 per cent of foreign travellers to Telangana who tested positive for Covid-19 were carriers of the mutated Variants of Concern (VOC), including the UK (B.1.1.7) and South African (B.1.351) variant, as per the genome sequencing data by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG).
According to the INSACOG, genome sequencing was done for 253 foreign travellers infected with the virus. Of these, 181 were VOCs. The UK variant was detected in 131 cases and the South African variant in 50. This means that 71.5 per cent of the Covid cases among foreign travellers to the State were due to the highly infectious VOCs. When compared to other States, this is the highest number of UK and SA variants detected among travellers.
The States with the highest number of genome sequences among travellers are Delhi (687), Karnataka (296) and Telangana (253). While Delhi and Karnataka are also home to international airports, the share of VOCs among Covid infected travellers were low. While Delhi recorded 14 per cent of VOCs among travellers and Karnataka 11 per cent.
Not just the VOCs, but three cases of the B.1.617 variant of the virus, popularly known as the ‘double mutant’, have also been detected in Telangana. As per government rules, RT-PCR tests are mandatory for people arriving from the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East. A private testing lab has been conducting the RT-PCR tests for passengers arriving at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad and the samples of some of those who tested positive have been sequenced at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in the city.
COVID HELPDESK TO COME UP AT HYD PRESS CLUB
The Health Department will soon set up a helpdesk for journalists at the Hyderabad Press Club in Somajiguda. According to Press Club treasurer Suraj V Bharadwaj, Public Health Director G Srinivas Rao assured that a helpdesk would be set up at the Press Club with a dedicated WhatsApp number to provide Covid-19 services for journalists. Online doctor counselling, suggestions on home isolation, and medical kits to journalists tested positive for Covid-19 will be provided by the helpdesk. The Press Club will also conduct a vaccination camp for journalists.
K’NAGAR YOUTH ARRESTED FOR PLASMA FRAUD
The Karimnagar Task Force and Three Town police on Friday arrested a youngster for cheating Covid-19 patients and their families in the guise of donating plasma. The accused, identified as Bukya Balachander, a resident of Maripeda village in Mahabubad district, used to call up kin of Covid patients seeking plasma donors on social media. He would promise to donate plasma, provided they send him transport charges to reach their location. However, once the families transfer the money online, he would switch off his phone. The Karimnagar police arrested him on Friday.
NO VACCINATION DRIVE ON MAY 1 &2, SAYS DPH
Much to the disappointment of those aged above 45 years, Telangana Director of Public Health Dr G Srnivasa Rao on Friday said that there will be no vaccination drive for the next two days — May 1 and 2 — in any of the government Covid-19 vaccination centres across the State due to non-receipt of vaccine doses from the Central government. Meanwhile, social media was abuzz with disgruntled youngsters as the CoWIN portal allowed only those above 45 to register on Friday.