Omnicron Scare: Centre Issues New Guidelines For International Passengers

Omnicron Scare: Centre Issues New Guidelines For International Passengers
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The Union Health Ministry on Sunday issued new guidelines for international passengers traveling to India.

It stated that passengers will be required to submit a COVID-negative report and share their travel history for the previous 14 days before boarding a flight, while those coming from the Omicron-hit countries will have to carry out mandatory Covid-19 test on arrival in India and stay in an isolation facility if tested positive.

Even if tested negative, the passengers from the Omicron-affected countries will have to stay in home quarantine for seven days and re-test on the eighth day. Moreover, if the re-test result comes out negative, they will still have to monitor their health for another seven days.

The nations hit with the Omicron variant are South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel and the United Kingdom, besides the nations in Europe where a surge in COVID-19 cases were reported.

The new guidelines will come into effect from the midnight of December 1.

Further, all passengers should submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal before boarding an aircraft, including last 14 days travel history. They will also have to upload COVID-19 RT-PCR negative report for which the test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to the journey.

Passengers will be liable for criminal prosecution if the report is found to be not authentic, the new guidelines stated.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the Covid-19 situation following the emergence of Omicron – described as a Variant of Concern by the World Health Organisation – and asked the officials to enhance surveillance at the airports.

Moreover, the World Health Organisation (WHO) asked the South Asian countries to "scale up surveillance, strengthen public health and social measures, and enhance vaccination coverage" to ward off any threat from the new variant.

The new variant of SARS-CoV-2 carries 32 mutations in the spike protein region providing it with the ability to escape immunity and transmit fast. It is spreading fast in most of the provinces in South Africa.

The new guidelines further stated that the rules will be applicable for ward off any threat from the new variant. Only children below five years of age are exempted from the test.

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