NEW DELHI: Nearly 3,000 international passengers arrived at the Delhi airport on Thursday, including from the UK, France and Germany, and officials said at least six more people tested positive for COVID-19.
Strict norms, including mandatory COVID test, are in place for passengers coming from 'at-risk' countries in the wake of the emergence of the new coronavirus variant Omicron.
With the new norms that also require passengers from 'at-risk' countries to stay back at airports till their test results are declared, there have been reports of chaos as people have to wait for long hours.
On Thursday, a Twitter user complained that his wife and toddler had to spent hours despite taking Rapid PCR test at the airport.
"@DelhiAirport @airindiain My wife and toddler are in the Delhi Airport right now. Despite taking the rapid covid test they are still waiting (4 hours). Is this fair? And now they find that the toddler's stroller is missing. The height of loot and carelessness. Can someone help?," the user said in a tweet.
In response, Delhi airport tweeted that "this is not the experience we want you to have" and asked the person to provide details to look into the issue.
According to a Delhi airport official, the result of a Rapid PCR test takes around 90 minutes while that for an RT-PCR test is at least four to six hours. The charge for a Rapid PCR test has been reduced to Rs 3,500 from Rs 3,900 earlier, the official added.
The official said that little over 2,950 passengers arrived in international flights from Wednesday midnight till 7 pm on Thursday.
Out of them, more than 2,150 passengers took Rapid PCR test while the rest opted for RT-PCR test.
More than five international flights landed at the airport, including four flights from London and one from Paris.
Officials said that six more passengers from 'at-risk' countries have tested positive for COVID on arrival at the airport in the national capital on Thursday.
Their samples have been sent for genome sequencing to ascertain whether they have been infected by Omicron.
As increasing number of passengers have to compulsorily undergo tests, efforts are also on to ramp up manpower for carrying out the tests and related procedures.
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Thursday told the Lok Sabha that the government's yardstick of 'at-risk' countries and testing all the passengers coming from these countries is the "right way to go".
On Thursday, India reported two cases of people being infected with Omicron. Genestrings, which is carrying out COVID tests at the Delhi airport, was not available for comments on Thursday.
On Monday, a senior Genestrings official had said that it will be increasing the manpower at its laboratory. Currently, Genestrings has more than 600 people at the airport for testing purposes, the official had said.
In the Lok Sabha on Thursday, Scindia said there have been efforts over the last six months to slowly increase international flights but Omicron is "certainly a setback because all countries across the world need to be safe and secure".
"That is our first priority and, therefore, different countries have put in place different yardsticks. I think, the yardstick that has been put in place by our government with putting eleven countries marked as 'at-risk' and testing them completely is the right way to go," he said.
According to him, double vaccination does not give 100 per cent immunity and there are still breakthrough infections that take place despite full vaccination.