THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In what may add to the woes of the Kerala government, over 500 passengers who landed in the state late on Saturday and in the wee hours of Sunday from Oman, Kuwait and Qatar have not been subjected to rapid antibody tests to detect virus infection.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said that the tests were not conducted on the passengers from Oman, Kuwait and Qatar as the countries do not follow such a testing protocol.
"None of the Gulf countries follows such a procedure. In the case of the UAE, it was the India government which insisted on the rapid antibody test," Muraleedharan said.
Even after being subjected to the rapid antibody test, two among the 363 passengers who arrived from the UAE on Thursday turned positive for Covid-19 on Saturday. However, the mandatory thermal screening has been done on all passengers who are repatriated as per the Centre's Standard Operating Procedure, Muraleedharan said.
"Some Gulf countries carry out tests for Covid-19 only on deportees, which is not applicable in this scenario," he added. Muraleedharan dismissed concerns over repatriating passengers without a foolproof screening mechanism. "Nobody with symptoms is allowed to board the aircraft. Besides, the Centre has insisted on a 14-day institutional quarantine period. That norm is very crucial and should be strictly followed by the states," he said.