Amid global alarm over the new Covid variant Omicron and the Centre asking all states and union territories to step up testing and surveillance, the West Bengal government has asked the Kolkata airport authorities to take all necessary measures to hold off the new strain which has already spread to several countries across the globe.
The state has already made it mandatory for all passengers arriving from international destinations, including Dhaka, Singapore and London, to undergo RT-PCR tests and 14 days of quarantine upon touchdown.
The authorities will also check for the travel history of all passengers arriving from overseas before they are allowed to leave the airport.
According to the new guidelines, passengers coming from Singapore and London will have to take RT-PCR tests and wait at the airport before their reports arrive. For this, the necessary arrangements are being made at the airport.
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More than 300 chairs have been installed in the international terminal of the airport so that passengers could sit at a safe distance from each other and wait for their test reports. Since the number of passengers aboard overseas flights is relatively less currently, there isn’t much to worry about, said the director of Netaji Subhash Bose International Airport, C. Pattabhi.
After customs clearance, all overseas fliers will be tested at the arrival hall itself. Food stalls as well as coffee/tea vending machines have been arranged so that passengers can partake of eatables and beverages while waiting for their test reports.
The central government had changed its rules for overseas passengers in the light of the threat posed by the Omicron variant and the rules are being revised daily.
Passengers arriving in Kolkata and having a connecting flight to Bhubaneswar or the Northeast states will have to stay at Kolkata airport till their report is received. The same could put them at risk of missing their connecting flights.
As per the new guidelines released by the Union government, the UK, entire Europe and 11 countries — South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel have been labelled as “at risk” countries. Of these, only Singapore and London have direct flights to Kolkata. Passengers arriving from other countries will also go through random testing.
Meanwhile, the state’s Covid-19 tally rose to 16,16,751 with 668 new infections on Wednesday. Kolkata accounted for the most new cases at 172, followed by the North 24 Parganas at 131, a bulletin issued by the state health department said.
Twelve new fatalities pushed the state’s overall Covid toll to 19,498. Active cases currently number 7,712, while the recoveries are at 15,89,541 with 675 more patients being cured of the infection in the last 24 hours.Internet Explorer Channel Network