The health ministry has put in place stricter norms for people flying in from the UK when flights partially resume next Friday and these new rules will be in place till 11.59 pm of January 30, for now. This is being done to control the spread of the new and more infectious Covid mutant found in the UK and then in some other countries too.
Aviation minister H S Puri tweeted on Saturday that flights from India to UK will resume from next Wednesday (January 6) and from UK to India on Friday (January 8).
“30 flights will operate every week. 15 each by Indian and UK carriers. This schedule is valid till January 23, 2021. Further frequency will be determined after review…. All health precautions will be taken. Standard operating procedures have been issued by Union health ministry. Passengers will be tested both before boarding and upon arrival in India. These are valid till January 30, 2021,” the minister stated.
All health precautions will be taken. SOPs have been issued by @MoHFW_INDIA. Passengers will be tested both before… https://t.co/lAQ0HIysYY
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) 1609578009000
On arrival in India, those flying in from the UK will mandatorily need to undergo a paid RT-PCR test. Passengers testing negative on arrival will be advised 14 days of home quarantine. And, those testing positive will be housed in institutional isolations facilities.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation will ensure proper separation of flights coming from UK to avoid crowding at airports for testing and waiting for result. To ensure stringent following to all protocols, only 15 flights per week by airlines of India and as many by carriers of UK — 30 in all weekly — will be allowed to and from the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad only till January 23, 2021.
“Passengers (coming from UK) testing positive shall be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate (isolation) unit coordinated by respective state health authorities. They would earmark specific facilities for such isolation and treatment and send the positive samples to Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Labs,” the new rules say.
If the report of the sequencing is consistent with the current SARS-COV-2 virus genome circulating in the country, the ongoing treatment protocol including home isolation/treatment at facility level depending on severity will be followed.
If the genome sequencing test shows the new and more infectious strain, “then the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit. While necessary treatment as per the existing protocol will be given, the patient shall be tested on 14th day, after having tested positive in the initial test. The patient will be kept in the isolation facility till his sample is tested negative.”
Airlines and airports will inform passengers about the new protocols and also make in-flight announcements about the same. “The state-wise passenger manifest of the flights from UK landing at Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai airports in India (from Jan 8-30, for now) shall be conveyed by the Bureau of Immigration to state government/integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) so that this data would be provided to the surveillance teams,” it says.
“All the contacts of those travellers who arrived at various airports between January 8 and 30 and tested positive on arrival during air travel would be subjected to institutional quarantine in separate quarantine centres and would be tested as per ICMR guidelines (or earlier if the passenger develops any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19). Contacts testing positive shall be (done),” the new rules say.
Information regarding any passenger covered within the scope of this SOP, who has moved to another state will be immediately notified to the concerned state health authority. If any passenger is not traceable initially or during any duration while being followed up should be immediately notified to Central Surveillance Unit of IDSP by the District Surveillance Officer.
When flights were suspended December 23 due to the new and more infectious Covid strain, 67 flights per week were operated by British Airways (29), Air India (23), Virgin Atlantic (8) and Vistara (7) between London and 10 Indian cities including Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Goa, Amritsar and Kochi under the air bubble agreement.