NEW DELHI: In view of the emergence of the highly mutated Covid-19 variant Omicron, the Central government announced on Wednesday that it has decided not to resume scheduled international flights from December 15. There is no indication yet when it will.
“In the view of the evolving global scenario with the emergence of new variants of concern, the situation is being watched closely in consultation with all stakeholders and an appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services will be notified in due course,” the civil aviation regulator said in a notification.
The decision comes just five days after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) made the announcement regarding resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services, which have been suspended since March 23, 2020.
At Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport, four persons who arrived from the Netherlands and the UK in the early hours of Wednesday tested positive for Covid-19. Their samples have been sent for genome sequencing to ascertain if they have the new variant, Omicron.
All four are Indian nationals and have been admitted to the LNJP Hospital where a dedicated ward has been set up for isolating and treating such patients. A senior airport official said the four flights originating from Amsterdam and London and carrying 1,013 passengers landed at the IGI Airport between 12 night and 6 am. “Of these passengers, only four have tested positive for Covid," he added.
While there has been a significant drop in the number of Covid-19 cases, the government has imposed strict norms to prevent the entry of the new Covid-19 variant into the country.
With over 3.1 lakh fresh Covid-19 cases, the month of November saw the lowest number of people contracting the viral disease in the country since May last year. In the last 24 hours, 8,954 new coronavirus infections and 267 fresh fatalities were reported across the country. The total number of active cases in the country are now less than a lakh after 547 days.
On the new air travel norms, the ministry of civil aviation said only two per cent of the passengers coming from countries that are not in the "at-risk" list will be subject to random sampling for coronavirus and they will be permitted to leave the airport after giving the samples. The government has made it compulsory for all passengers coming from "at-risk" countries to undergo Covid-19 test.
The aviation ministry also clarified that post-arrival testing can be exempted if a person is travelling from a not at-risk country and has only a transit (without leaving immigration) in an "at-risk" country before taking the destination flight. But if the person has travelled to any at-risk country in the last 14 days, he/she will also be asked for post-arrival testing and other additional restrictions. The countries designated as "at-risk", include some European nations, the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel. On Tuesday, Bangladesh was dropped from the "at-risk" nations' list....