THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: People of the state once again stare at travel woes as Karnataka braces for sealing its borders after a spike in Covid-19 cases in Kerala and Maharashtra. Already, many roads leading to Karnataka in the border districts of Kasaragod and Wayanad have been closed and those who want to cross the borders should produce RT-PCR Covid-negative certificate obtained 72 hours prior to the entry. The Karnataka authorities are planning to enforce the restrictions in full force in the coming days. The movement of goods to Kerala from neighbouring states will not be affected immediately. Further, Karnataka has allowed drivers and helpers on cargo vehicles to cross the borders if they produce Covid-negative certificates every 15 days.
Domestic travellers and those who come by air or sea from other countries will also have to produce RT-PCR Covid-negative certificate taken 72 hours prior to boarding the aircraft or ship as per a February 17 circular of the Central government. More than the domestic passengers, he new restrictions announced by the Centre for people coming from foreign countries are expected to cause miseries to the overseas diaspora.
From Monday, submission of a self-declaration on Air Suvidha portal after uploading a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test report obtained within 72 hours prior to the journey has been made mandatory for all international passengers reaching any of the sea or air ports in the country.
Each passenger shall also submit a declaration with respect to the authenticity of the report and will be liable to criminal prosecution, if found otherwise. A senior Air India officer said: “The new restrictions will affect the movement of international passengers and Kerala would be hit severely as it has a good number of overseas people. There have also been instances of persons who have recovered from Covid showing prolonged RT-PCR positivity because of viral RNA debris remaining in clinical specimens.”
The UAE government has already asked people travelling from India to provide QR code link of the test report along with the correct date and time of the sample taken and tested in the report. The airlines operating between the UAE and India should authenticate the test reports before allowing passengers on the flight. “So, there is no doubt the passenger movement would be affected in a big way in the coming days as people would avoid travelling to avoid an embarrassing situation,” he said.
Besides the air travel restrictions that came into force on Monday, the curbs imposed by Karnataka will further choke Kerala. Joint Transport Commissioner (Enforcement) Rajiv Puthalath said: “The Transport Commissionerate has not received any panic calls from border districts. However, we are monitoring the situation.”