India extends UK flight ban till Jan 7, will impose restrictions thereafter
India has extended the suspension of flights from UK from December 31 till January 7 in a bid to contain the spread of a new strain of coronavirus, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri announced on Wednesday.
“Decision has been taken to extend the temporary suspension of flights to & from the UK till 7 January 2021. Thereafter strictly regulated resumption will take place for which details will be announced shortly,” Puri said on Twitter.
According to officials aware of the development, the government may mandate RT-PCR tests on arrival for all passengers coming from UK after January 7.
On December 21, India joined a growing list of countries on Monday to seal off access to people who have been to the UK, suspending all flights to and from the country between December 23 and December 31 in order to stop the spread of a new strain of the Sars-CoV-2 virus.
“I foresee a slight extension of the temporary suspension. I don’t expect that extension to be a long or indefinite extension. In the next day or two, we will find out if any additional steps need to be taken, or when we can start easing the current temporary suspension,” Puri said at a press conference on Tuesday.
India has been operating international flights through bilateral transport bubbles with 24 countries including UK since calling off scheduled overseas flight operations when it announced a nationwide lockdown in March.
The minister said passengers who arrived from the UK on December 21 and 22 were made to take an RT-PCR test for Covid-19 at the airport, with only those who tested negative allowed to go home, where they were told to isolate themselves for seven days. Anyone who tested positive was taken to institutional quarantine.
“We went one step further. We went back till November 25 and any passenger who had come directly or indirectly from UK, we did some contact tracing and we did some genome sequencing,” he said.
The aviation ministry is also coordinating with the ministry of health and department of pharmaceuticals for preparing the cold chain for the Covid-19 vaccine transportation, civil aviation secretary Pradeep Kharola said.