The Indian government today issued a new standard operating procedure (SOP) for passengers arriving from the UK in the wake of the emergence of a new variant of the COVID-19 virus.
The SOP mentions RT-PCR testing on arrival, separate isolation of those testing positive for the new variant of coronavirus, institutional quarantine for co-passengers of those testing positive.
The Ministry of health and family welfare's SOP pertains to all those who have travelled from or transited through the UK in the past 4 weeks (from 25th November to 23rd December 2020).
Releasing the SOP, the ministry of health and family welfare said this new variant of the virus is estimated by the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) to be more transmissible and affecting the younger population.
The ministry's statement read, "This variant is defined by a set of 17 changes or mutations. One of the most significant...changes...may result in the virus becoming more infectious and spreading more easily between people,"
All passengers travelling from or transiting through airports in the UK and disembarking in India would be subjected to RT-PCR test on arrival.
If they test positive for the older variant of coronavirus, the ongoing treatment protocol may be followed, including home isolation or treatment at facility level, depending on the severity of the case.
However, if the presence of the new variant is detected, the patient will remain in the separate isolation unit with the regular treatment protocol being followed. Another test shall be conducted on the 14th day and, in case the sample is found positive, further samples may be taken until two consecutive samples taken 24 hours apart test negative.
The statement states that concerned airlines shall ensure that prior to check-in, the traveler is explained about this SOP.
"The State-wise passenger manifest of the flights from the UK landing at various International airports in India for the past 4 weeks (from 25th November 2020 to 23rd December 2020) shall be conveyed by the Bureau of Immigration to State Government/Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) so that this data would be provided to the surveillance teams," read the SOP.
The flights from the UK stand suspended temporarily December 31 or till further orders.