In the wake of emerging threats from the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, India may not resume the operations of its regular international flights from December 15, as previously announced. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that it is watching the situation closely, and an “appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services shall be notified in due course”.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs too released a statement claiming that the effective date of resumption of scheduled international flights is under review. The Ministry may also revise the testing protocols.
“The government will review standard operating procedures on testing and surveillance of incoming international passengers, especially for those countries identified as “at-risk” countries. Genomic surveillance for variants to be further strengthened and intensified,” the statement from Home Ministry said.
The government will take steps to sensitize Airport Health Officials and Port Health Officials to conduct stringent supervision of testing protocols at airports and ports.
Urgent meeting to discuss Omicron situation
Prime Minister Narendra Modi conducted an urgent meeting with experts from various fields to discuss the concerned Omicron variant. Chaired by Home Secretary, the meeting witnessed the participation from members from the health department, NITI Aayog and other Ministries. The global situation was assessed, and ways to strengthen the preventive measures were also discussed.
The government has already issued new guidelines for international passengers arriving in India, which came into effect from today. The new guideline insists that all passengers arriving from ‘at-risk countries undergo an RT-PCR test in India, and if tested positive, they would be isolated. The passengers who are tested negative would have to undergo home isolation for seven days, followed by a repeat RT PCR testing on the eighth day. This will be further followed by seven days of self-monitoring.
Under the new circumstances, India’s air bubble arrangements formed with 31 countries would continue the services. The operations of scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.