New COVID variant: Gujarat makes RT-PCR on arrival mandatory for foreign flyers; MP speeds up genome sequencing
Those who are fully vaccinated will also be screened at the airport and allowed to proceed if they do not show any symptoms of the infection.
AHMEDABAD: Passengers from countries categorized as `at risk' by the Union Health Ministry will have to undergo COVID-19 tests upon arrival in Gujarat if they are not fully vaccinated, an official said here Saturday.
Nine countries have been classified as `at risk' following worldwide concern about a new variant of coronavirus, designated as Omicron.
"As per the letter issued to us on Friday by the Union Health Ministry, RT-PCR test is mandatory for all incoming travelers who do not have vaccination certificate," said state Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Manoj Aggarwal.
Those who are fully vaccinated will also be screened at the airport and allowed to proceed if they do not show any symptoms of the infection, he said.
The countries categorized as `at risk' are United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand and Zimbabwe, Aggarwal said.
There are two international airports in Gujarat -- one in Ahmedabad and another in Surat.
The state has been asked to follow the November 11 guidelines of the Union home ministry.
The guidelines prescribe that if travelers from countries categorized as 'at risk' (and with which India has reciprocal arrangements for mutual acceptance of WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines) are fully vaccinated, they will have to quarantine themselves for 14 days post arrival.
If they are partially vaccinated or not vaccinated, they will have to submit samples for COVID-19 test.
Such passengers will have to remain in home quarantine for seven days, and will have to take another test on the 8th day of arrival in India.
They will be required to undergo further self-monitoring for another week even if tested negative for the virus.
Scheduled international flights to and from India will be resumed from December 15 after 20 months of coronavirus-induced suspension, the Civil Aviation Ministry had said on Friday.
The countries deemed 'at risk' by the Union Health Ministry will be allowed to operate only a certain percentage of their pre-COVID scheduled flights, the Aviation Ministry had said.
a Madhya Pradesh minister on Saturday said that although nobody has been found infected with this particular variant in the state so far, the government is keeping an eye on the situation.
Minister for Medical Education Vishvas Sarang also said that genome sequencing is being carried out in a speedy manner.
"Our government has been continuously monitoring the situation. We are responding speedily on receiving information of any new variant or mutation. Genome sequencing is being done with promptness. So far, no case of new variant has been detected in Madhya Pradesh," Sarang told reporters when asked about the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
Sarang said that he got the information through media about the new variant being found in some other countries.
The symptoms of this mutant were not found in any patient here in Madhya Pradesh, he said.
"We have been continuously appealing to the people to follow the COVID-19 protocol to ensure the protection of individuals and their families," he said.
When asked about the international flights being started from next month, he said that the Centre takes every decision after due thought and in consultation with the experts.
"The Centre and the MP government are ensuring all measures to protect the country and the state from the pandemic. Necessary decisions are being taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus," the minister said.
Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was briefed about the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, and he asked officials to review the plans to ease international travel restrictions in light of the "emerging new evidence".
The new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, first detected in South Africa this week, was on Friday designated as a "Variant of Concern" by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which named it Omicron.