Mumbai: Amidst growing concern over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has expressed concerns over tracking of international passengers who don’t land directly in Mumbai but then travel to the state using other means.
The issue of the new variant Omicron was discussed in the state cabinet meeting headed by the CM. The spread of the variant can be prevented if the information about passengers, who went abroad, is received regularly, said Mr Thackeray.
“The main issue is about the passengers, who are arriving from abroad without landing directly at Mumbai or other airports and then coming to the state through domestic airplanes or by roads and railway. The question is how to test such people and the prime minister should be apprised of this,” he said.
Information of the passengers coming from abroad should be received regularly so that they can be monitored and the people coming in their contact can be tracked. It will be easier to stop the spread of a new variant if information on such travellers is shared, added Mr Thackeray.
The Maharashtra government has already issued fresh Covid-related restrictions, which mandated that only fully vaccinated citizens would be allowed to access public transport in the state and for using public places including government offices, shops, malls etc. The new guidelines have also made it mandatory on all domestic travellers entering the state to be either fully vaccinated or carry an RT-PCR test report valid for 72 hours.
A penalty of Rs 500 would be imposed on those who are found violating the norms and also on the conductor/driver. Vehicles owners will be charged a fine of Rs 10,000 if a passenger is found violating norms inside their vehicles.
Maximum attendance at weddings in open places, lawns, grounds has been limited to 25% of the venue's capacity. In closed spaces, the limit has been capped at 50% of the capacity.
Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar has also announced that passengers returning from South Africa will be quarantined on their arrival in the city and their samples will be sent for genome sequencing.
The new B.1.1.529 variant, which has been named as ‘Omicron,’ was first detected in South Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern. In India, according to norms set by the Union Health Ministry passengers coming from ‘at-risk’ countries need to submit their samples at the airport for RT-PCR testing. The countries in Europe including the United Kingdom and South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel have been put in the ‘at-risk’ category.