Mumbai: The cabbies at Mumbai Airport are a worried lot after the detection of passengers who have tested positive for the Omicron variant of Covid. Taxi unions have asked airport authorities to sanitise their cabs and also check drivers who ferry international passengers. On Sunday, there were seven such cases found in Maharashtra.
For the last few days, authorities at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport have gone overboard in checking passengers arriving from ‘at-risk’ countries such as the United Kingdom, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Brazil, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel, who are then being de-boarded on priority. Checks at the domestic terminal of Mumbai airport too have been ramped up.
Taxi unions claim there are passengers who opt for pre-paid taxis at the airport, booking it from either inside or at the counter. The drivers, on the assumption that the passenger is negative for the new Omicron variant, proceed to ferry the passengers. But according to the cab unions, a recent incident where a passenger who had tested positive for Omicron and had travelled in a taxi, has spooked the taxi drivers at Mumbai airport.
“We have asked the Mumbai airport operator to sanitise the taxis and even check the health of the drivers. As of now, the drivers seem to be doing fine, yet it is important that care is taken,” said Guddu Singh, head of the Mumbai Airport Taxi Union.
According to the unions, there are around 1,500 black-and-yellow taxis operating out of Mumbai airport. Of these, around 700-900 taxis are parked at the international terminal while another 500-600 ferry passengers arriving at the domestic terminal. The unions claim that for the last two months or so, business was just getting back to normal; however, the Omicron scare is making them feel unsettled once again.
Mumbai Airport has revised the rates for rapid PCR tests to Rs 3,900 from the earlier Rs 4500. Passengers have to undergo a mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival and are required to wait for their test results before leaving or taking a connecting flight. If the RT-PCR test is positive, the passenger will be shifted to a designated isolation facility or hospital by the authorities. Other directives too have been issued by the Central and state governments.