The Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India on Sunday said that the decision on the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international flight service will be reviewed amid the fear of the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The Home Ministry in a high-level review meeting chaired by Union home secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla also decided to review the Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) on testing and surveillance of the arriving international passengers, especially those who are coming from countries listed in the ‘at risk’ category.
“Decision on effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passengers service, to be reviewed, as per evolving global scenario.”
It must be noted that on 26th Nov 2021 after a long gap of 20 months, India has allowed operations of scheduled international flights with several countries starting 15th December 2021.
However, the DGCA of India added countries in Europe including The United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel into the list of ‘High Risk’ countries.
And passengers arriving from such countries would require to follow additional measures following their arrival in India, including testing for coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
The Home Ministry in today’s meeting comprehensively reviewed the overall global situation in wake of the Omicron virus and also discussed the various preventive measures in place and to be further strengthened.
The ministry added that genomic surveillance for variants will be further strengthened and intensified, and health officials at airports and ports will be sensitized for strict supervision of testing protocol at entry points.
“Closer watch on the emerging pandemic situation within the country will be maintained,” it said.
Omicron Variant of Covid-19
It is worth mentioning here that the WHO has listed Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’ and said it could take several weeks to know if there are significant changes in transmissibility, severity, or implications for Covid vaccines, tests, and treatments.
So far, the Omicron variant of Covid-19 has been found in Australia, Italy, Germany, Germany, Israel, Hong Kong, Botswana, and Belgium.
Till now, India has not reported any case of the Omicron variant. Yesterday, two south African nationals were tested positive in Karnataka. However, it turned out that they were infected from the Delta variant, instead of the new Omicron strain.