Omicron forces India to review December 15 resumption of scheduled international flights
- The government will also review the standard operating procedure on testing and surveillance of the incoming international passengers, especially those travelling from countries listed in the ‘at risk’ category.
The Union home ministry on Sunday said that decision on the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passengers service will be reviewed as per evolving global scenario. The government will also review the standard operating procedure on testing and surveillance of the incoming international passengers, especially those travelling from countries listed in the ‘at risk’ category.
The decision was taken after an urgent meeting chaired by the home secretary on Sunday.
Earlier this week, the ministry of civil aviation issued an order allowing scheduled international flights to and from all countries considered “not at risk” with effect from December 15, 2021. The ministry said that passengers from countries in “at risk” category would require to follow additional measures following their arrival in India, including testing for coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
The rising concern over the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, however, has prompted the government to review the decision.
The Union home ministry spokesperson said that the overall global situation in the wake of the Omicron variant was comprehensively reviewed and various preventative measures were discussed during the Sunday meeting.
The ministry added that genomic surveillance for variants will be further strengthened and intensified, and health officials at airports and ports will be sensitised for strict supervision of testing protocol at entry points.
“Closer watch on emerging pandemic situation within the country will be maintained,” it said.
Dr V K Paul, member (health), NITI Aayog, Dr Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and senior officers from health, civil aviation and other ministries were present in the meeting.
The new variant of concern, first identified in South Africa, has now been detected in several countries, triggering concerns over the alarming transmission rate. Two cases of Omicron was detected in Australia on Sunday even as more countries are moving towards tightening travel restrictions to curb the virus transmission.