Mutant virus: India takes precautionary measures

Chennai: All flights connecting the UK and India will remain suspended from Wednesday till 31 December, the Civil Aviation Ministry said on Monday in view of the emergence of a mutated variant of the coronavirus there.

Moreover, it said passengers coming from the UK through flights till Tuesday midnight would be tested for Covid-19 on arrival at airports “as a measure of abundant precaution”.

A number of countries like Canada, Turkey, Belgium, Italy and Israel have banned flights from the UK as the British government warned that the potent new strain of the virus was ‘out of control’ and imposed a stringent new stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter that those passengers who are found Covid-positive would be sent for institutional quarantine set up by the States or UTs.

“Those found negative should be advised to isolate at home for seven days and will be medically monitored by the States/ UTs,” Puri added.

Till date, the rules stated that if an international passenger had a COVID-negative certificate from a test done 72 hours prior to the journey, he or she need not undergo Covid-19 test again on arrival at the Indian airport.

Earlier during the day, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to Union Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola recommending suspension of all flights originating from the UK into India temporarily till 31 December.

“As you are aware India has been seeing a sustained decline in the number of fresh COVID-19 cases for over two-and -a-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 a travel history could pose critical risk for pandemic management in India,” he added.

The Civil Aviation Ministry tweeted on Monday: “Considering the prevailing situation in UK, Govt. of India has decided that all flights originating from UK to India to be suspended till 31 December 2020.”

This suspension will start after 11.59 PM of 22 December and consequently flights from India to the UK shall also stand temporarily suspended during above said period, it added.


NT Bureau