Port Blair, Jun 30 (PTI) The Andaman and Nicobar Islands has recently seen a spurt in cornavirus cases with the infection tally mounting to 97 on Tuesday, a health official said.

The archipelago had managed well the first wave of infections triggered by the arrival of nine returnees from Tablighi Jamaat's event in Delhi mid-March, with all 33 COVID-19 positive persons getting cured and returning home by May 10.

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Rigorous lockdown restrictions helped the islands stay coronavirus-free before the infection knocked the doors of the islands on June 10, when two persons, who flew back home from outside tested positive.

Since then there has been a steady spike in coronavirus cases with flights landing here from different destinations.

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A total of 97 confirmed cases have been reported so far in the Union territory, out of which 45 have been cured, leaving it with 52 active cases, Director of health service of Andaman and Nicobar and nodal officer for coronavirus Avijeet Roy told PTI.

"Most cases have been detected among flight passengers arriving here from Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata," he said.

Recently, a girl who flew back from Chennai after getting treatment for some other disease tested positive for coronavirus, the nodal officer said, adding seven of her family members contracted the infection from her.

There are 18 Army jawans among those found infected and they are undergoing treatment, Roy said.

According to sources, 104 Army jawans had gone to Nashik in Maharashtra for training and returned back here on June 20 by a special plane, and 18 among them tested positive for the highly contagious disease.

They are residents of localities like Bathubastu Naushad colony and Broksbad. Some of their kin got infected after coming into their contact.

Roy said the local ICMR laboratory is testing over 400 samples daily.

Concerned over the rapid spread of the virus here, former MP Vishupad Rai urged the Union government to cut down the frequency of flights to the islands.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands had managed well the initial spell of the contagion when nine persons, who had returned from Tablighi Jamaat event in Nizamuddin in the national capital, were found to have contracted the disease in late March.

They were immediately segregated and taken to hospitals from the airport itself.

A male passenger flying back home from Chennai on June 7 later tested positive, while a woman, wife of a defence staff posted here, returning from Delhi on the same date was subsequently found positive. She had got stuck in the national capital during lockdown and flew back to Port Blair on June 7 by an Indigo flight.

The Chennai returnee, a resident of Prathapur colony, subsequently infected some of the family members and also neighbours.

Of the 572 islands in Andaman and Nicobar, 37 are inhabited.

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