The BMC on Tuesday revised the Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for handling international passengers arriving from the UK, Brazil, Europe, South Africa and the Middle East. According to the revised protocol, BMC officials will check on international passengers twice a week when they are in institutional quarantine at their hotels.
According to quarantine norms stipulated by the Mumbai civic body, passengers arriving from the above-mentioned countries (which have seen variants of the coronavirus) are quarantined in hotels for seven days after their arrival and then allowed to leave only after they test negative for Covid-19 on the seventh day and complete the remaining seven days of isolation at home.
However, recently, several instances came to light wherein many passengers have either paid bribes to the official on duty to escape quarantine or go missing from hotels where they are booked for institutional quarantine. The BMC has filed FIRs in a few such cases. A massive spike in the number of cases reported daily, coupled with such instances, prompted the BMC to revise guidelines for institutional quarantine making it mandatory for its officials to visit the hotels twice during the stay of a particular passenger, followed by a weekly report of such visits.
The revised SoP states that the team deployed at the airport will have to send the list of such passengers landing in Mumbai for institutional quarantine by e-mail to the respective Assistant Commissioner / Executive Health Officer of the concerned department on a daily basis.
The SoP stated: "Arrangements should be made by the team of staff assigned for duty outside the airport to take the concerned passengers to the hotels of their choice by BEST buses assigned for them. The driver list of the concerned BEST bus should also be handed over. The concerned BEST bus driver should pick up and drop off the passengers at the hotel of their choice and get the receipt of the arrival of the concerned passenger from the respective hotels. Receipts for delivery of all passengers to the hotel should then be handed over to the coordinating officer at the airport by the BEST bus driver on his return to the airport. A weekly report of the inspection carried out by the concerned teams on the quarantine centres should be prepared regularly and a copy of the report should be submitted to the Additional Municipal Commissioner (Project) and Zonal Deputy Commissioner."
"In case of violation of any rules or norms related to quarantine, the assistant commissioner shall take appropriate and strict action in accordance with the provisions of the Infectious Diseases Control Act, 1897, Disaster Management Act, 2005," said P Velarasu, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects).