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Coronavirus: India bans international flights, SOP issued for foreign-returned passengers at Delhi airport

If any passenger shows any symptoms of the COVID-19 disease, he or she would be isolated and moved to a designated hospital, the Union Health Ministry noted in a press release issued on Wednesday.

Published: 19th March 2020 07:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th March 2020 07:17 PM   |  A+A-

Kempegowda international airport, Bengaluru airport

Representational Image. (Photo | EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Amid coronavirus pandemic, India on Thursday announced it will not allow any international commercial passenger aircraft to land from March 22 to March 29.

The central government said the railways and Civil Aviation Ministry must suspend all concessional travel on trains and flights, except for students, patients and disabled people.

"Similarly, all children below 10 should be advised to stay at home and not to venture out," it added.

The Centre has requested states to enforce work from home for private-sector employees, except for those working in emergency and essential services.

"State governments shall issue appropriate directions so that all citizens above 65 (other than for medical assistance) except for public representatives or government servants or medical professionals are advised to remain at home," the government statement noted.

To reduce huge gatherings, all group B and C category of central government employees will be asked to attend offices on alternate weeks, and there will be "staggered timings" for all employees.

The Union health ministry has issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) for movement of international passengers, returning from coronavirus-affected countries, at the Delhi airport.

In view of reports about a few incidents of the ruckus being created by international passengers at the Delhi airport during the last few days, the ministry stated that people returning from the novel coronavirus-affected countries would be first escorted by airline staff to the health counters for initial thermal screening.

If any passenger shows any symptoms of the COVID-19 disease, he or she would be isolated and moved to a designated hospital, the ministry noted in a press release issued on Wednesday.

After the thermal screening, asymptomatic passengers will be moved to designated immigration counters with passports and a copy of the self-reporting form.

Airline staff in the plane and on the ground would have to ensure that the arriving passengers have filled their self-reporting forms properly, it said.

Currently, India has put a ban on arrival of all passengers -- including Indians --from Europe, Afghanistan, UK, and various other countries.

Moreover, India has also announced that passengers coming from UAE, Qatar and various other countries must remain in quarantine for 14 days.

The ministry stated that once the asymptomatic passengers clear immigration, their passports would be retained by immigration officials.

Passengers in batches of 30 will be handed over to an escort team led by a CISF officer who would also be holding the passports of each passenger.

"The passports shall not be handed over to the passengers, at any cost," the ministry said, adding once the luggage is collected, the passengers would be moved to a designated triage area manned by Delhi government officials.

"There would be a control room at the triage area and five screening counters manned by medical officers and para-medical staff deputed by Delhi government," the ministry noted.

At the assigned counter, the passports of the entire batch will be handed over by the team lead to the medical officer-in-charge of the counter.

"Here the passengers would be screened and those without any risk factors would be sent for home quarantine after returning their passports, a home quarantine advisory and collecting a declaration from them.

They must be told to remain strictly under home quarantine, or else face penal action, as per the rules," the ministry stated.

"The possibility of stamping of passengers, as done in Maharashtra, with home quarantine stamps would be explored," the minister added.

The high-risk passengers identified for quarantine at the facilities would be first asked to fill up a declaration opting for paid hotel facility or the government quarantine facility (based on availability) and "subsequently would be quarantined as per availability list of quarantine facilities given by the state government", it stated.

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