Omicron Scare: Center to review decision on resumption of international flights on December 15

New Delhi: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday said that the central government will review the decision on the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger service as per the evolving global scenario.

In addition, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on testing and monitoring of incoming international passengers will also be observed, especially for countries identified in the ‘at risk’ category.

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This comes as Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla chaired an urgent meeting on Sunday following a high-level review of the new COVID version of Chinta Omicron by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Home Ministry said that the meeting was held with Dr. VK Paul, Member (Health) of NITI Aayog, Dr. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and senior officials of Health, Civil Aviation and other Ministries.

In a series of tweets, it was reported that a comprehensive review of the overall global situation was undertaken in the wake of the Omicron virus.

Various preventive measures to be implemented and strengthened were discussed.

“The government will review the standard operating procedure on testing and monitoring of incoming international passengers, especially for countries that have been identified as ‘at risk’ category,” the ministry said.

Genomic surveillance for variants is to be further strengthened and accelerated. Airport Health Officers (APHOs) and Port Health Officers (PHOs) will be sensitized for strict monitoring of testing protocols at airports/ports.

Importantly, it was informed that the decision on the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger service would be reviewed as per the evolving global scenario.

“The emerging pandemic situation within the country will be closely monitored,” the ministry said.

Nearly 20 months after these flights were suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in India, the central government had decided to resume scheduled regular international flights from December 15.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had suspended the operation of scheduled international commercial passenger services to and from India with effect from March 23, 2020, due to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, as concerns remain over the new COVID-19 variant, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called for a proactive approach and review of plans for easing international travel restrictions, and urged people to be more vigilant. While several states moved quickly to take it. Take precautionary measures and be alert.

Officials briefed PM Modi about the recently discovered variant Omicron during a comprehensive meeting to review public health preparedness and COVID-19 vaccination.

The Prime Minister has stressed the need to monitor all international arrivals, their testing as per guidelines, with special focus on countries identified as ‘at risk’.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal wrote a letter to PM Modi

Earlier today, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote to PM Narendra Modi urging him to stop flights to India from countries affected by a new variant of coronavirus with immediate effect.

“Our country has fought a tough fight against Corona for the last one and a half years. With great difficulty and due to the selfless service of our lakhs of COVID warriors, our country has recovered from Coronavirus,” he wrote in the letter.

He said that in view of the new Kovid version, many countries including the European Union have suspended travel to the affected areas.

“We must do everything possible to prevent the new form of anxiety, which has recently been recognized by the WHO, from entering India… I urge you to stop flights from these areas with immediate effect. This Any delay in this regard may prove to be harmful, if any affected person enters India,” the letter said.

The Delhi government has called a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Monday to discuss the steps to be taken in view of the threat of the new COVID-19 variant.

COVID Variant Omron

The new and potentially more infectious version B. was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa on 24 November, and has also been reported in countries such as the United Kingdom, Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel. have been identified. ,

It was named Omicron and designated as a variant of concern by WHO.

One variant of concern is the WHO’s top category of worrying COVID-19 variants.

This type of mutation is reported to have a high number of mutations, about 50 in total. Importantly, as reported by South African genomic scientists, more than 30 mutations were found in the spike protein – the structure the virus uses to move into the cells they attack.

The new version, becoming a cause for alarm, has prompted countries around the world to impose travel restrictions and southern African countries in an effort to stop the spread of Omicron.

The central government has asked all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travelers arriving or arriving from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where serious public health impacts have been reported.

(with agency input)