Omicron rules come into effect in India: Airports under scanner

Chennai: The new rules by the Union government to control the spread of Omicron variant of coronavirus have come into effect at airports across the country from today.

People arriving in India by flights from countries where a new strain of coronavirus, ‘Omicron’, has been detected will need to follow certain entry rules. India announced this to check any spread of the new strain amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Every international passenger coming to India has to fill a self-declaration form and show a negative RT-PCR test report. They can’t enter India if any of these two conditions are not fulfilled.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday chaired a meeting with officials from different states, including Tamilnadu, on the emergence of Omicron, a new coronavirus variant that was first detected in South Africa.

Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan, Director of Public Health Dr TS Selvavinayagam, Mission Director, National Health Mission-TN Dr Darez Ahmed, Director of Medical Education Dr R Narayana Babu, and other senior officials attended the meeting held through video conference. Following the scare caused by the new Covid-19 variant called Omicron, Chennai, Trichy and Madurai international airports have ramped up monitoring of passengers coming in from countries at risk in tune with international travel guidelines and protocols laid down by the State government.

Speaking to reporters at Saidapet, Health Minister Ma Subramanian said the Union Health Secretary discussed the State’s preparedness in case the Omicron variant was detected. Screening of international travellers had been tightened at the airports. The State had been focusing on genomic sequencing of samples collected from eight types of clusters to immediately detect any new variant, added Subramanian.

New rules that come into effect at midnight require testing at airports for travelers from more than 14 at-risk nations where the Omicron variant has been detected.

It will take between four to six hours for these results to be processed. The company handling RT-PCR tests can process 400-500 tests an hour, sources say, adding that efforts are being made to ramp up testing facilities.

 

NT Bureau