Published on March 21, 2021

AHMEDABAD/SURAT: A 31-year-old man from Kalol suspected to have the South African strain has tested positive for the foreign strain. With this, senior state health department officials confirmed that Gujarat has recorded a total of 26 cases of foreign Covid-19 strains – UK and South African – in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Kalol. All the patients are discharged, and their contact history is being traced.

It was believed that Gujarat had seven-odd foreign strain cases so far but in all 26 patients were detected and have recovered too. “Majority of these patients are identified based on the random testing undertaken by the department where 5% of the confirmed positive samples are sent for genetic profiling randomly. The process is time consuming and results arrive after seven to 10 days of submitting the samples,” said a senior official.

The officer added that majority cases had travel history or direct contact with a foreign returned person and cases of local transmission of these strains are few. “We don’t necessarily see the presence of these strains as the reason behind the current surge. It’s more to do with overall change in virus profile and cyclical nature of the pandemic.”

Recently the Union government had announced that India had over 400 confirmed cases of foreign strains. As the cases skyrocket in Surat, the city health officials carried out analysis of the patients and found many patients remained asymptomatic for long and triggered more spread. Several patients reported gastrointestinal illness and skin rashes as new symptoms along with coughing, fever and body ache.

“The virus is damaging the lungs of the majority of patients without the person even knowing that he/she is infected. These patients are moving around freely and infecting others,” Surat municipal commissioner Banchhanidhi Pani told TOI. “Lung involvement is hidden till the patients turn serious. Due to which those being brought to the hospital already have a serious infection in the lungs.”

Further, the health authorities are battling asymptomatic cases as well. Among these patients, rapid test results are also proving false. “Couple of my rapid tests turned out negative. But due to a prolonged fever of around six days, I went to the hospital and during a detailed examination, the infection was found in the lungs,” said a resident of the City Light area.

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