With the proposed resumption of international flights on December 15 under review, the government issued fresh guidelines on Sunday, mandating RT-PCR test on arrival for all passengers from Covid at-risk countries. While those testing positive will be isolated and their samples sent for genomic testing, those testing negative will have to home-quarantine for a week and test on the eighth day.
No cases of the variant have been detected in India so far. As of November 26, the list of at-risk countries include — countries in Europe including UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel. Flyers also have to declare their travel details for the past 14 days.
The Centre has asked states and UTs to focus on containment, surveillance and increased vaccination coverage besides beefing up genome sequencing measures.
The enhanced protocol came on a day the Omicron variant surfaced in the Netherlands and Denmark, and Australia — half a world apart — and more countries tightened travel restrictions. Israel barred entry to foreigners and approved controversial phone-tracking of contacts. Morocco suspended all incoming air travel from around the world for two weeks starting Monday. Indonesia and Saudi Arabia too imposed fresh curbs.
While South Africa questioned the “act first, ask questions later” approach of the global community in blockading travel, calling it a blow to its economy, the EU said it needed to buy time. “We know that we are in a race against time… And the scientists and manufacturers need 2-3 weeks to have a full picture about the quality of the mutations of this Omicron variant,” European Commission president Von der Leyen said.
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