Health department teams on coronavirus cluster hunt

Not just primary contacts, anyone residing in same village advised to undergo test

State Health department officials are once again on the task of finding cluster of COVID-19 cases, where people with coronavirus are linked by a common place and time.

Now, in a few districts, the health teams are not limiting the tests to only immediate contacts of COVID-positive person. Anyone residing in the same village or locality as the patient is advised to undergo tests.

The officials have come across one such emerging cluster in Mancherial. After a teacher in the Zilla Parishad High School was detected with the virus, 55 persons associated with the school were tested on Monday. Health teams found 12 more teachers, one cook and a student to have the virus. Contacts of those 14 will be tested on Tuesday.

In Adilabad, apart from the immediate contacts, health teams are testing anyone who is from the same village as the patient. Regardless of whether one has come in contact with the patient or is asymptomatic, they are encouraged to undergo testing.

District Medical and Health Officers (DMHOs) said this strategy helps them in early detection of the cases. If there is a delay in detection, asymptomatic or symptomatic patients might meet more people, opening the possibility for the virus to spread. The officials said they might detect more cases as testing is ramped up and that would help in virus containment.

Since all DMHOs were asked to be on alert as cases are surging in the neighbouring states of Maharashtra and Karnataka, this strategy would continue for a few more weeks at least.

Recently, a person who returned from a foreign country and landed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) here, was detected with the virus. Adilabad district officials said though the person was supposed to be in home isolation in Nirmal district, he attended functions in Utnoor, Adilabad.

The health teams there conducted tests on nearly 100 people from the village he visited. But, fortunately, none have been detected with the virus so far. The officials have urged people with the virus to isolate themselves and be socially responsible so that they do not transmit it to others. The incidence of COVID-19 deaths was highest among the elderly, they said.

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