Mumbai: In the wake of spread of new variant of Covid 19 virus, the Centre has suspended all flights originating from UK into India temporarily with effect from 23.59 hours on December 22 to 23.59 hours on December 31. With today’s decision about 100 flights originating from UK and landing at various Indian airports stand cancelled.
On the other hand, union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan after an urgent meeting of the joint monitoring group said the government is fully alert about the new strain of coronavirus reported in the United Kingdom. He called upon the people that "there's no need to panic."
He further stated that ‘’At this time, I would say, don't get hassled with imaginary situations, imaginary talks and imaginary panic. The government is fully alert. In the last one year, as you all have seen, we took all necessary measures to ensure the safety of people. If you ask me, there's no reason to panic so much."
He said that the government had done everything that was important to handle the Covid-19 situation in the last one year.
In a letter the union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan to the union civil aviation secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola has said that the spread and growth of SARS CoV 2 in UK calls for enhanced epidemiological surveillance, enhanced containment and other measures to effectively tackle the challenge.
‘’It has been reported that this variant has an unusually large number of genetic changes, particularly in the spike protein. India has been seeing a sustained decline in the number of fresh Covid 19 cases for over two and half months now, accompanied by a decline in the number of deaths. In this scenario, any interjection of a SARS Cov 2 variant virus through passengers with air travel history could pose critical risk for pandemic management in India,’’ he added.
Based on the inputs received from the Joint Monitoring Groups and the Vaccine Task Force it has been suggested that all flights originating from UK into India temporarily with effect from 23.59 hours on December 22 to 23.59 hours on December 31.
Passengers arriving from UK in all international flights (flights in transit) should be subjected to mandatory RT-PCR tests on arrival at the airports concerned. Those found positive on arrival be sent for institutional quarantine/isolation while those found negative be advised to isolate at home for 7 days and to be monitored by the states/UTs concerned.
Bhushan has categorically said that relevant information with regard to RT-PCR tests, institutional quarantine and home isolation should be prominently displayed in arrival area and waiting area of the airports.
Further, the states/UTs concerned are being separately asked to set up help desks and adequate arrangements for RT-PCR tests at the airports.