Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said that he foresees a “short extension” of the suspension of flights from the United Kingdom to contain the spread of the new variant of coronavirus that was first detected in that country.
This comes a day after six people who had recently returned to India from the UK were found positive for the new mutant strain of the coronavirus.
“I foresee a short extension on this temporary suspension. I do not see the extension to be long or indefinite,” Puri said while addressing media at an annual press conference on Civil Aviation.
The government has imposed a ban on flights coming to India from the UK. All flights originating from the UK to India are suspended till December 31, 2020, with effect from December 22.
Puri explained that the Ministry is monitoring developments in other countries too and will make further decisions accordingly.
“We had imposed temporary suspensions when we had eight to nine flights daily from the UK. The passengers who came in from the time of the announcement to the next day were subjected to compulsory quarantine at the point of arrival. Even those who tested negative were required to go in mandatory quarantine. We went one step further and we did contact tracing and genome sequencing of passengers from the UK who have come to India since November 25,” he said.
“What will happen on December 31, this is something on which we are applying our minds. We had already on 29th (December). We are getting the full picture. I also see that flights from the UK are currently suspended in other countries too. We are monitoring this and will take a decision accordingly,” he added.
The Union Health Minister stated that samples of three UK returnees to the country have been tested and found positive for new Covid strain in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, Two of them are at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad and one in the National Institute of Virology, Pune.
All these persons have been kept in single room isolation in designated Health Care facilities by respective state governments. Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine. Comprehensive contact tracing has been started for co-travellers, their families and others, the central government said.
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