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Ramakanta Biswas

Amid growing concerns over the Omicron variant of Covid-19, a serious lapse in the tracing of foreign returnees has come to the fore in Odisha.  

According to the data compiled by the State Health and Family Welfare Department, about 40 per cent travellers who came to Odisha from eight ‘at-risk countries’ are yet to be traced. 

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

Some returnees have entered wrong address and contact information in Air Suvidha portal while some others even furnished the addresses of other states. 

However, none from those identified and traced so far have tested positive, informed the Health Department.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Naba Das said there is no reason to worry. "We have urged the Centre to submit the list of travellers. WHO has not given proper facts, but Odisha is keeping a close watch," he said. 

He advised people to remain alert and strictly follow Covid guidelines instead of panicking.  

Family and Welfare director Bijay Panigrahi said, “Those coming to Odisha from abroad are being tracked. The samples of those testing positive are being sent for genome sequencing to ensure if it is Omicron variant. However, so far no case of Omicron has been detected in Odisha.”

Public Health Director Niranjan Mishra said, “The data given by the Centre are being sent to districts and accordingly tracing of returnees is being conducted. Those identified are being tested as per protocols.”

“People need to cooperate and follow the protocols. Those coming from at-risk countries should undergo test to ensure that his/her family members remain safe. Our aim is not to bother them, but to ensure safety of others,” Mishra added.

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