Omicron Variant Threat: Govt. To Review Decision Of Resuming Commercial International Flights

Resumption of commercial international passenger flights after reviewing the “evolving global scenario”. The statement comes after several countries placed travel restrictions on some countries in southern Africa over the new coronavirus variant, Omicron.

The Union Home Secretary on Sunday called an urgent meeting to discuss the rising concerns over the new coronavirus variant of concern, Omicron. Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, Dr. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Prime Minister, and senior officers from Health, Civil Aviation, and other ministries were present in the meeting.

In the meeting, the overall global situation in the wake of Omicron was comprehensively reviewed. Various preventive measures in place and to be further strengthened were discussed in the meeting.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that the government has decided to review the standard operating procedure on testing and surveillance of incoming international passengers, especially for those countries identified ‘at at risk’ category.

The MHA further said that Airport Health Officials (APHOs) and Port Health Officials (PHOs) would be sensitized for strict supervision of testing protocol at airports/ ports.

Genomic surveillance for variants would be further strengthened and intensified, the MHA stated.

Scheduled international flights have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, special international passenger flights have been operating since July last year under air bubble arrangements formed with 31 countries.

Several European nations announced their first cases of a highly infectious new coronavirus strain, as governments worldwide began pulling down the shutters to contain the new Omicron variant.

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