Omicron: Wedding season poses fresh challenge for Jalandhar Health Department

Though NRI passengers are screened on arrival, tracking their quarantine status tough task for officials

Omicron: Wedding season poses fresh challenge for Jalandhar Health Department

As many as 157 patients from high-risk countries have arrived in Jalandhar between November 23 to 30. - File photo

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 2

As many as 157 patients from high-risk countries have arrived in Jalandhar between November 23 to 30. With two cases of Omicron reported in the country, caution has been advised to all citizens, especially in terms on new international arrivals to the country. The health authorities in Jalandhar are also on their toes to prevent spread in the NRI-rich Doaba region.

The ongoing wedding season has posed a big challenge for the Health Department with so many NRI arrivals.

The 157 new international arrivals include patients from the UK, Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Singapore among other countries. While none of the arrivals have tested positive for Covid so far ever since Omicron was flagged as a variant of Covid, as per state protocol, home-quarantine has been advised to all international travellers, especially from high-risk regions.

However, despite stringent Covid safety and screening guidelines in place to screen international travellers, there are some ground level problems which make it impossible to ensure 100 per cent effectiveness in screening.

Sources in the Health Department said, “All airport passengers from high-risk countries are screened on arrival. But many come in through connecting flights. With the existing health teams it is also impossible to check which ones are abiding by home-quarantine. Many of the NRIs arrive here for weddings. While they are advised seven-day quarantine, many go and attend functions. Its not possible to keep tabs on all activities. One the eighth day another sampling of these passengers is done. But it is not possible for the health mechanism to confirm 100 per cent quarantine of NRIs until then.”

Caterers and wedding organisers said there are so far no Covid-related instructions and many NRIs were attending weddings within days of arrival amidst large gatherings.

One of the organisers said, “There are many weddings slated for consecutive days in December. Many involve NRI guests. Those coming for a week cant spent the entire time here sitting at home. They mingle and spend time with relatives often without masks.”

Civil Surgeon Dr Ranjit Ghotra said, “All travellers are screened at the airport. Those positive are placed in institutional quarantine.

There are fool proof arrangements in place. In this region, there has been no positivity reported in international travelers so far. All arrangements are also in place for level 2 and level 3 Covid facilities at the Civil Hospital. To prepare for the foreign arrivals, a separate 10-bedded Covid unit will be created in a Covid care ward in city.”

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