The Union health ministry on Tuesday issued a set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for passengers arriving from the United Kingdom (UK) amid the detection of a new variant of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) there. On Monday, the Centre had announced a temporary ban on flights from the UK into India which would continue till December 31.
Several other countries have also announced travel bans to and from the UK with a view to prevent the spread of the new variant (B117), which is said to be 70 per cent more transmissible, as estimated by the European Centre for Disease Control.
As per the SOPs issued by the health ministry, all international travellers will be required to declare their travel history of the last 14 days and fill up a self-declaration form to be screened for Covid-19.
With regard to those coming from the UK, the ministry guidelines said that state governments should ensure that passengers are subjected to Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) tests on arrival, and in case of a positive sample, it is recommended that spike bases RT-PCR tests should be performed.
Passengers that are found to be positive shall be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate isolation unit coordinated by the respective state health authorities, the ministry added.
Those passengers who test negative through the RT-PCR method will be advised home quarantine. Concerned airlines have been asked to ensure that prior to check-in, the traveller is explained about the SOPs and in-flight announcements must be made explaining all relevant information to the passengers, as per the guidelines.
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The ministry added that passengers from the UK who arrived in India between November 25 and December 8, 2020 would be contacted by District Surveillance Officers and will be advised to self-monitor their health.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier said the reproduction of the new Covid-19 variant has increased from 1.1 to 1.5 and people can protect themselves by following the regular protocol- which is social distancing, wearing masks/face coverings and washing hands. Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe said that organisation was closely monitoring the spread of the new variant and would “convene member states to discuss strategies for testing, reducing transmission and communicating risks,” without specifying a timeframe.
The UK has registered over 2 million Covid-19 cases till now out of which 67,616 have died.