The Indian government has released a standard set of protocols to be undertaken across all states to track passengers who travelled to India from the United Kingdom since November 25, 2020 as a means to detect if the new coronavirus mutation discovered in the UK is already prevalent in India. A passenger in Chennai and five passengers in Delhi who returned from the UK tested positive for COVID-19 and their samples have been sent for sequencing.
While the Centre has already suspended air travel with UK starting December 23 till December 31 and has asked States to ensure institutional isolation facilities, Maharashtra has made it mandatory for passengers travelling from UK, Europe, Africa and the Middle East to undergo institutional quarantine at the passengers' cost in hotels selected by the municipal corporation and is not performing RT-PCR tests at the airport.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is employing the services of immigration officers as well as the District Surveillance Officers of the Integrated Diseases Surveillance Project (IDSP) to monitor passengers who have travelled from the UK in the past month. Passengers across all airports will have to consent to RT-PCR tests as the government will subject them to the test. Every passenger that has travelled from the UK since November 25 are expected to fill a self-declaring form so that they can be screened for COVID-19
Ministry Protocols At International Airports Till December 23
- State governments to ensure that passengers travelling from or transiting through airports in UK and disembarking in India would be subjected to RT-PCR test on arrival. In case of a positive sample, it is recommended that spike gene-based RT-PCR test should also be performed by an appropriate laboratory.
- If positive, -passengers will be isolated at designated facilities and their sample will be sent for sequencing.
-If genome similar to the one in India, standard protocol with home/ institution isolation depending on severity.
-If the new variant, passenger will be isolated at a separate facility and treated for 14 days. On the 14th day the passenger will be retested.
-If still positive, the passenger will be kept at the facility till two samples within 24 hours do not test negative. Once negative, passenger will be sent home.
- If negative, the passenger will have to follow home quarantine.
- IDSP officials will conduct contact tracing of the positive cases. Passengers in the same row as well as three rows surrounding the positive passenger's row along with the Cabin Crew will be contact traced, screened, and tested if symptomatic.
Protocols for Passengers Who Travelled Between November 25 and December 23
- The Bureau of Immigration will share a state-wise list with the respective State IDSP officers of all the passengers who arrived from the UK between November 25 and December 23.
- The IDSP will cross-verify the details with the Self declaration forms on AIR SUVIDHA portal.
- Travelers from UK who arrived in India from November 25 to December 8 2020 will be contacted by IDSP officers and advised to self-monitor their health. If anyone amongst them develops symptoms they will be tested by RT PCR and follow the sequencing steps mentioned above
- Passengers who travelled between December 9 and December 23 will be followed up for 14 days
Rules In Maharashtra
Maharashtra intends to institutionally quarantine all passengers travelling from Europe, Middle-East and Africa where the passengers will pay for their stay. The state authorities will help the passengers to reach the specific hotels.
Passengers are only going to be screened and if symptomatic will be taken to hospitals for the RT-PCR tests. Other passengers quarantined at the specific hotels will get tested on the 5th or 7th day.
If the passengers reside in a different state other than the international airport they have landed at or are in transit, they will be allowed to proceed to their respective destinations and the state health authorities will be notified about the same.
Between December 21 and December 22, around 590 passengers travelled to Mumbai from UK. The health authorities sent over 299 to hotels for isolation. Around 187 of the passengers were from Mumbai and 167 were from other cities in Maharashtra, according to a circular by the Municipal Corporation. Passengers travelling to other states have been allowed to travel with the state notifying the other states about the travels.
In the weekly COVID-19 press briefing, Dr. Vinod Paul, member of the NITI Aayog, said that India should not be in a state of panic as so far, the new mutated strain has not yet been detected in India. However, the Ministry is now becoming more vigilant to ensure that if this variant arises in the country, the country's laboratories associated with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) will help in the genomic sequencing of the virus.
Updated On: 2020-12-22T18:45:44+05:30