India sounds fresh alert as 3 mutant coronavirus strains hit 145 countries
Airlines should identify travellers arriving from or transiting through the UK, South Africa and Brazil and segregate them
India has been successfully bringing down the number of Covid-19 patients in the country with the nationwide vaccination programme in full swing. However, a few states, including Maharashtra and Gujarat, are registering new cases and experts are hinting towards another wave of Covid-19 in some parts of the country.
Meanwhile, with reports of new Covid-19 strains originating in South Africa and Brazil, apart from that in the UK, the government is determined to keep things under control. The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has announced fresh guidelines for all international passengers arriving in India.
The new SOP will come into effect at 11.59 pm on February 22. Some of the important points of the new SOP are:
• All international travellers have to submit a self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) before their travel.
• They should also upload a Covid-negative RT-PCR report, with the test having been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey.
• Each passenger should also submit a declaration regarding the authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution if found otherwise, the guidelines state.
• Only those travelling to India in case of emergencies such as the death of a family member will be allowed to arrive without a Covid-negative report.
• Travellers should seek exemption on the online portal 72 hours prior to boarding.
• During the journey, all passengers should wear masks, maintain social distancing and have downloaded the Aarogya Setu app.
• After deboarding, they will have to undergo thermal scanning and show officials the self-declaration online form they had filled.
• Those found symptomatic during screening will be immediately isolated and taken to medical facilities.
• People who have returned to the country after taking international flights have been advised to self-monitor their health condition for a period of 14 days.
International travellers arriving through seaports or land ports have been advised to follow the same set of guidelines.
The guidelines further add that airlines should identify travellers arriving from or transiting through the UK, South Africa and Brazil and segregate them during the journey and while deboarding.
The ministry of health and family welfare states that there are three mutant coronavirus variants in circulation -- the UK variant, South Africa variant and Brazil variant, which have been detected in 86, 44 and 15 countries respectively.
In December last year, the government had suspended flight movements between India and the UK in the wake of the detection of a new and more infectious strain of the coronavirus in the UK. The flights were, however, restarted in early January with stringent screening requirements in place.