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Odishatv Bureau

Around 246 foreign returnees to Odisha have tested positive for Covid-19, informed Ajay Parida, Director of Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), Bhubaneswar on Monday.

According to Parida, the RT-PCR samples of the 246 returnees were collected for genome sequencing to ascertain and detect if they were infected with the new Omicron variant of the virus.

“Earlier, genome sequencing of 141 samples of foreign returnees was conducted and the presence of Omicron variant was not detected. Samples of 246 returnees, who have tested positive for Covid-19, have been received from different districts for genome sequencing,” said Parida.

The ILS Director said that compared to the first and second wave, both the Centre and Odisha government have adopted a proactive approach and focus is being given on testing and tracking of the returnees.

As per protocol, RT-PCR test of the samples will be conducted for a second time before carrying out the genome sequencing of the samples to detect the Omicron strain. The samples whose CT value is less than 28 will be picked for genome sequencing, said Parida.

“We have received some samples from Burla and Rayagada and by Thursday or Friday, we will be in a position to say whether any foreign returnee is infected with the Omicron variant,” Parida added.

Earlier the State Health Department said that more than 800 non-resident Odias (NROs) have already landed in Odisha from several Omicron hit countries. Out of them, the government does not have information about 320 returnees, which constitutes nearly 40 per cent of the total arrivals.

Source said some returnees have entered wrong addresses and contact information in Air Suvidha portal while others even furnished the addresses of other states.  However, the only respite is the fact that none from those identified and traced so far have tested positive.

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