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Updated on: Wednesday, December 01, 2021, 11:38 PM IST

Omicron threat: Centre raps Maharashtra govt over COVID-19 guidelines for international passengers

Arriving passengers leave a terminal at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on December 1, 2021.  | (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP)

Arriving passengers leave a terminal at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on December 1, 2021. | (Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP)

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Mumbai: The Centre on Wednesday rapped the Maharashtra government for imposition of restrictions on international travellers, which were at variance with those issued by it. It has asked the state government to align itself with the Centre's guidelines for their uniform pan-India implementation.

Maharashtra had directed all international passengers to take RT-PCR tests before leaving the airport and then undergo 14 days of home quarantine, even if they test negative upon arrival. This order was for all passengers, irrespective of country of origin; and not necessarily those on the Centre's list of 'at-risk' nations.

The union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in a letter to the state public health additional chief secretary Pradeep Vyas, pointed out that these guidelines are at variance with the SOPs issued by the Centre.

Further, the Centre objected to the state government’s move to impose mandatory RTPCR test for passengers planning to take connecting flights after disembarking at Mumbai; there was also an additional State government requirement of a negative RTPCR test 48 hours prior to date of journey for domestic passengers travelling from other states to Maharashtra.

Following Centre’s caution, Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope clarified that '‘a fully-vaccinated local domestic passenger can travel without RT-PCR."

‘’The state government has issued fresh guidelines akin to those of the Central government. A local/domestic traveller, if fully vaccinated, will be able to travel. There is then no need for RTPCR testing. The travel details of passengers arriving from 'at risk countries will be checked and form them the RTPCR test and 7-day isolation will be mandatory. After that, if their test is negative, they can go to work,’’ said Tope.

Questioned over the need for institutional quarantine, the state government has argued that Covid tests conducted immediately after arrival often returned false negatives, and it was critical to ensure passengers were, in fact, free of infection, before releasing them.

The order mandating quarantine was issued late last night, leading many to question how passengers on flights that had already taken off, or were about to, could revise schedules (and finances, since tests and quarantine will be paid for by the passenger) at short notice.

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Published on: Wednesday, December 01, 2021, 11:34 PM IST
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