Amid the rising concerns of the new COVID variant Omicron, the Union Health Ministry has directed to increase testing and screening of all international travellers. In continuation to this, a special set of airport guidelines have been put in place for those arriving from South Africa, the epicentre of the said mutation. Reportedly, such passengers will have to undergo testing and quarantine at the Mumbai International Airport. If found COVID positive, their samples will be sent for genome sequencing, the Mumbai Mayor informed.
New Aiport guidelines include COVID testing, quarantine & genome sequencing
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Saturday convened a district-level meeting with senior officials to discuss the measures to control and curb Omicron. As per reports, all members of the COVID task force, dean of COVID hospitals, ward officers, health officers and the Mumbai Mayor attended the review to consult the restrictions regarding the variant spread. Here, the officials also discussed the plan of action for testing and contact tracing of passengers from other countries.
India has also upgraded its list of 'at-risk' countries to include Hong Kong and Israel onto the Omicron radar. The index also includes the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore and all passengers arriving from these destinations will be strictly screened for coronavirus.
If tested positive, their samples will be sent for genome testing, added reports. This test is a sequential technique that helps to identify and understand genetic information. Since Omicron is a new mutation, not much is known about it and this is where genome study will help experts come up with treatments and cures.
No restriction on outbound flights in India
While several other nations have banned flights to and from South Africa, "There is no restriction on outbound flights in any way. But this decision has been taken keeping in view the past experience. There is an increased risk of coronavirus in foreign countries, so those coming from outside will have to undergo genome tests," the Mayor simplified. She also urged people to adhere to all precautionary norms to prevent the virus from spreading and said "I request everyone to maintain social distancing and wear masks so that this new menace can be stopped".