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India Suspends UK Flights Amid Concerns Over New COVID-19 Strain

Mandatory RT-PCR Test For Passengers In Transit Flights

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
I am a mumbai based journalist having worked with many daily newspapers.

INDIA. Mumbai: On Monday, India announced a temporary suspension of flights from the United Kingdom following the announcement by Britain that a new highly-infectious strain of the novel coronavirus was in circulation there.

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“Considering the prevailing situation in the UK, the Indian government has decided that all flights originating from the UK to India shall be temporarily suspended till 11:59 pm, 31st December. This suspension to start with effect from. 11.59 PM, December 22,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation announced.

The ministry said that passengers arriving into India from the UK till the suspension comes into force would be subject to mandatory COVID-19 tests. “As a measure of abundant precaution, passengers arriving from the UK in all transit flights (flights that have taken off or flights that are reaching India before Dec 22 at 11.59 pm) should be subject to mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival at airports. The passengers found Covid-19 positive on arrival shall be quarantined as per guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and would bear the medical costs incurred, ” the ministry said.

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Airlines operating flights to India from other countries shall not board any passenger traveling from the UK to India and shall ensure that no passenger coming from the UK is boarded in a flight for any destination in India either directly or indirectly. However, this restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.

The decision to suspend the flights was taken based on the advice of the Union Health Ministry. The health ministry gave suggestions based on the inputs received from the Joint Monitoring Group headed by the Director-General of Health Services and the Vaccine Task Force headed by the Principal Advisor and Member (Health) NITI. 

Night curfew in Maharashtra

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In another development, the Government of Maharashtra has decided to impose a night curfew in municipal corporation limits in the state till January 5 because of the emergence of a new coronavirus strain in the UK. The night curfew will remain in force from 11 PM to 6 AM every day starting Tuesday, December 22.

The announcement came after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray chaired a meeting to review the coronavirus situation in the state and implementation of preventive measures to curb the spread of the disease on Monday. It was also announced that passengers coming to the state from European and Middle East countries will have to remain under compulsory institutional quarantine for 14 days starting tomorrow. Such passengers will have to undergo the COVID-19 RT-PCR test on the fifth or seventh day of their arrival in Maharashtra.

Besides, that independent hospitals will be arranged for passengers who display symptoms of the new, mutated COVID-19 virus. Further, the state government has mandated home quarantine for all passengers arriving from countries other than from Europe and the Middle East.

“Let me say this again, the threat of Corona is yet to pass. To avoid the virus, do not let your guard down, do not crowd in public places, mask up, observe the physical distance, and keep washing hands,” the CMO wrote on Twitter.

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