Travellers from five states may need Covid negative reports to enter Delhi from Saturday
iPeople arriving in Delhi from five states that have reported a surge in daily Covid-19 infections may be asked to provide a negative RT-PCR test reports from Saturday, senior government officials privy to developments said.
The issue was taken up in a Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) meeting on Monday in the wake of steady rise in cases in Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Chhattisgarh, and greater curbs and checks were discussed, the people cited above added.
An official order, however, was not issued till Wednesday night.
“Any passenger arriving in Delhi via private or state-run buses, flights or trains may have to show a negative RT-PCR test report on their arrival in the Capital. The test report will have to be conducted not before 72 hours from the time of the person’s arrival in Delhi,” a government official said, asking not to named.
It was discussed that the directions may come into force “after midnight on February 26 and stay in operation till March 15”, the official added.
Airport and railway officials on Wednesday said they were yet to be informed about any such rule.
Like all the Covid-19 hit states, Delhi too had travel restrictions in place. While domestic flight operations resumed in Delhi from May 25 after the nation-wide lockdown was announced on March 25, the Delhi government resumed its inter-state bus operations as late as November 3, 2020. For international flights, all passengers from the UK, Brazil, South Africa, all European countries and the Middle East arriving at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport compulsorily have to undergo an RT-PCR test. However, they need not mandatorily undergo institutional quarantine. As per the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) given by the ministry of health and family welfare dated February 17, passengers from these high-risk countries can get their tests done at the airport before proceeding for home quarantine. Transit passengers will, however, have to wait for six hours until their reports are out.
Meanwhile, some of these affected states have themselves announced restrictions that amount to at least a partial lockdown in an attempt to curb the surge, even as the Centre rushes teams there to deal with a sudden spike in infections.
The lockdowns and the restrictions of travellers hark back to the first half of 2020 when most states put stringent measures in place amid the first Covid wave. With cases beginning to decline from October, most states relaxed these. Now, with a second wave threatening to break out, many are reimposing them.
On Monday, the Maharashtra government announced a complete lockdown in Amravati district and restrictions on assembly of people in Akola, Washim, Buldhana and Yavatmal districts. Earlier this week, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has imposed restrictions on marriages, public functions and gathering at public places across Mumbai.
Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand have made negative RT-PCR tests mandatory for travellers from Maharashtra. Maharashtra, meanwhile, requires travellers from Gujarat, Delhi-NCR, Goa, Rajasthan and Kerala to show negative RT-PCR tests.
Lalit Kant, former head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said the city administration must regulate or closely check passengers coming from states where Covid-19 cases are on the rise again.
“It is especially important now because of the multiple new variants of the virus that are now emerging. Most of the new strains spread rapidly even as they may not be as severe in terms of the infection caused to the body. But some form of regulation of incoming passengers is required. On Wednesday itself, Delhi’s active cases spiked by at least 80, which could well be the start of a new gradual spike if precautions are not taken in time,” he said.
A Delhi government spokesperson said the decision was taken by the DDMA and an order not he same is awaited by the authority.