Travellers from UK to India to be tested, temporary ban on flights

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Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan

The Union Health Ministry on Monday said that those coming from the UK, which is facing the emergence of a new and highly infectious strain of coronavirus, will be tested at the airports and if found positive, will be sent for institutional quarantine set up by the states and union territories.

India on Monday announced a temporary ban on flights coming from the UK till 11.59 p.m. on December 31. The suspension commences from 11.59 p.m. on December 22.

Earlier on Monday, the Health Ministry called an emergency meeting of the Joint Monitoring Group and the Vaccine Task Force to discuss the emergence of the mutated variant of coronavirus in the UK.

Pursuant to the meeting, Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to the Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola informing him about the decisions taken by the top advisors.

“All flights originating from UK into India be suspended temporarily till December 31, 2020 (23.59 hours). The suspension to start w.e.f 23.59 hours, December 22, 2020,” the Health Secretary wrote.

As a measure of abundant caution, passengers arriving from Britain in all international flights before the ban is imposed should be subjected to mandatory RT-PCR tests on arrival at the airports, he emphasised.

“Those who are found positive on arrival must be sent for institutional quarantine and isolation set up by the state and UT governments, in collaboration with the states/UTs concerned,” the letter added.

Those who are found negative in the RT-PCR tests will be advised to isolate themselves at home for seven days and will be medically monitored by the states and UTs concerned.

“Adequate arrangements for passengers waiting for their RT-PCR test results may also be made at the airports,” the health ministry told the aviation ministry.

The decision came two days after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the newly identified strain of the virus may be up to 70 per cent more transmissible and the UK Health Secretary emphasised that the new variant is “out of control”.

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