Flights from Mumbai, Delhi can reach Bengal thrice a week from today as Covid-19 curbs begin
- Following the initial announcement on Sunday, the West Bengal government allowed flights from Delhi and Mumbai to land in the state twice a week. However, the decision was reviewed and in a fresh letter on Tuesday, it was announced that the restrictions have been changed to thrice a week.
The recently announced restrictions by the West Bengal government limiting the number of domestic flights from Delhi and Mumbai will come into force from Wednesday (January 5) onwards. Flights from the two metros will be permitted to land in the eastern state thrice a week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday - and the state government said the situation will soon be reviewed again depending on the Covid-19 situation.
On Sunday, the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government announced multiple restrictions in the state owing to the massive spike in single-day Covid-19 cases. These included limiting incoming flights from Delhi and Mumbai, which have been majorly affected by the outbreak of the new Omicron variant.
Initially, flights from the two cities were allowed to operate twice a week in West Bengal, but the decision was reviewed and in a fresh letter, the state government on Tuesday informed that the same has been changed to thrice a week.
Issued by West Bengal's additional chief secretary BP Gopalika, the letter said that the state government is “extremely sensitive towards the inconvenience" that passengers may face but the “restrictions are absolutely essential for containment of Covid cases in the state”. The letter was addressed to the secretary of the Civil Aviation ministry, Rajiv Bansal.
The restrictions on flights from Delhi and Mumbai come after the West Bengal government last week announced a ban on all international flights coming to Kolkata from the United Kingdom. The suspension order, which came into effect on January 3, will remain in place until further orders.
On the decision, Banerjee said that a majority of the Omicron cases are being detected in individuals coming on flights from the UK. “It's a fact that the Omicron carriers are coming via international flights,” she added.
As per the new directive by the West Bengal government, all international passengers need to undergo Covid-19 tests upon arrival at the Kolkata airport. The airlines have been asked to “randomly" select 10% of the passengers for RT-PCR test while the remaining 90% will have to undergo Rapid Antigen Test.
West Bengal, especially Kolkata, has witnessed a 14-fold surge in Covid-19 cases in the last few days. On Tuesday, as many as 9,073 infections were logged, of which Kolkata accounted for 4,759. This was a jump of 2,995 cases in only a day after the state reported 6,078 infections on Monday.
Meanwhile, Delhi and Mumbai recorded over 5,000 and 10,000 Covid-19 cases, respectively, on Tuesday.