According to the latest circular issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) India, the government of India has put its initial plan of reopening international commercial flights on hold. With the discovery of a new and more transmissible strain of COVID, the administration has stepped into action to prevent and eliminate the risk of transmission of this variant in the country. Notably, India was about to resume international passenger air services from December 15 after a gap of about twenty months, however this decision stands suspended in view of the current Omicron scare.
Revised travel guidelines to be effective from today
While taking precautionary measures, the Union Health Ministry had also revised the existing travel guidelines for international travel effective from today. As per the new guidelines, passengers need to submit 14-days travel details and upload a negative RT-PCR test report on the Air Suvidha Portal before starting the journey. Notably, the passenger air services were suspended since March 2020 owing to the outbreak of COVID. While the aviation industry was eyeing a return to normalcy with this relaxation, the emergence of this new variant of coronavirus has put all the plans on hold.
What is Omicron?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the new variant of SARS-CoV-2, named Omicron, has been classified as a ‘variant of concern’. Having undergone more than 30 mutations, this strain is said to be the most transmissible and the most dangerous variant of this deadly virus to date. While this strain was first detected in Botswana, this variant has made its way in 23 countries including Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, South Korea, United Kingdom, Japan, France and Israel, among others. As of now, no cases of this new strain of COVID have been recorded in India, China and the United States of America.