Passengers arriving from the UK will be sent to seven days of institutional quarantine before home isolation even if they test negative for the coronavirus, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said today as flights from Britain resumed after a two-week ban.
An Air India flight from the UK landed in Delhi this morning with close to 250 passengers amid concerns about a mutant fast-spreading strain of the coronavirus that emerged in that country.
The government had suspended services between the two countries on December 23 over the new and more contagious strain of the virus. Many major European countries like France, Spain and Germany have extended the ban.
The number of people who have tested positive for the new UK variant has climbed to 82.
"To protect Delhiites from exposure to virus from UK, Delhi government takes important decisions. All those arriving from UK, who test positive will be isolated in an isolation facility. Negative ones will be taken to a quarantine facility for seven days followed by 7 days home quarantine," Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
To protect Delhiites from exposure to virus from UK, Del govt takes imp decisions.— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) January 8, 2021
All those arriving from UK, who test positive will be isolated in an isolation facility. Negative ones will be taken to a quarantine facility for 7 days followed by 7 days home quarantine pic.twitter.com/hYDsaOn8q1
The Delhi Chief Minister had earlier urged the Centre to extend the flights ban till January 31 because of the "extremely serious" COVID situation in the UK, which went into a full lockdown this week.
"The Centre has decided to lift the ban and start UK flights. In view of the extremely serious situation in UK, I would urge central government to extend the ban till January 31," Mr Kejriwal had tweeted.
"With great difficulty, people have brought COVID situation in control. UK's COVID situation is very serious. Now, why lift ban and expose our people to risk?" the chief minister said.
In Delhi, 13 people have tested positive for the new coronavirus variant.
According to the government, 30 flights will operate every week - 15 each by Indian and UK carriers. This will stand till 23 January, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri tweeted earlier this week.
New SOP released by the government for passengers from the UK requires them to take self-paid COVID-19 tests on arrival. Passengers also have to carry COVID-19 negative reports from a test done 72 hours before their journey. They have to quarantine for 14 days even if they test negative on arrival, but now two states have specified that half of that will be at a government facility.
Maharashtra also recently declared seven days of institutional quarantine and seven days home isolation for passengers from the UK.