India / Govt releases SOPs for fliers from UK after new COVID-19 strain found

Zoom News : Dec 22, 2020, 03:24 PM
New Delhi: Indian government on Tuesday issued SOPs for passengers arriving from UK amid fears of fast spread of a new and highly infectious Covid-19 strain in Britain.

The SOPs for epidemiological surveillance and response is in the context of new strain in UK, the Union Health Ministry said in a statement.

Releasing the SOP, the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) said this new variant of the virus is estimated by the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) to be more transmissible and affecting younger population.

Under the guidelines, the government has directed that all international travellers will be required to declare travel history of past 14 days and fill up the self-declaration form to be screened for COVID-19.

States are directed to get list of returnees.

"UK passengers travelling from Dec 21-23 would be subjected to RT-PCR test on arrival and passengers testing positive shall be isolated in an institutional isolation facility earmarked by states. Also, samples will be collected and sent for genomic sequencing," the government directed.

The positive cases will earmark specific facilities for such isolation and treatment. Necessary action to send the samples to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune or any other appropriate lab for genomic sequencing will be initiated at the facility level:

a. If the report of the sequencing is consistent with the current SARS-CoV-2 virus genome circulating in the country; the ongoing treatment protocol including home isolation/treatment at facility level as per case severity may be followed.

b. If the genomic sequencing indicates the presence of new variant of SARS-CoV-2 then the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit. While necessary treatment as per the existing protocol will be given, the patient shall be tested on 14th day, after having tested positive in the initial test. In case the sample is found positive on 14th day, further sample may be taken until his two consecutive samples taken 24 hours apart are tested negative.

Furthermore, those who are found negative on testing with RT-PCR at the airport would be advised quarantine at home.

The concerned airlines shall ensure that prior to check-in, the traveller is explained about this SOP. In-flight announcements must also be made explaining the relevant information to the passengers. Relevant information in this regard shall be prominently displayed in arrival area and waiting area of the airports, the ministry directed

Adequate arrangements for passengers waiting for their RT-PCR test results duly following effective isolation may also be made at the airports in conjunction with the airport authorities.

Moreover, the list of travellers (travelling between 21st -23rd December) who are found RT-PCR negative at airport testing shall be shared with the respective States by the Central unit of IDSP (facilitated by APHO/ BOI). They shall be advised for quarantine at home and tested as per ICMR guidelines. the ministry further stated.

Those international travellers from UK who arrived in India from 25 November to 8 December, which is the 1st & 2nd week from 25th November will be contacted by District Surveillance Officers and advised to self-monitor their health. If anyone amongst them develops symptoms, they will be tested by RT PCR.

a) If tested positive, genetic sequencing will be done. If the results are consistent with current circulating SARS-CoV2,the ongoing treatment protocol including home isolation/treatment at facility level as per case severity may be followed.

If the results of genomic sequencing are consistent with new variant, then these passengers will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit.

The list of international travellers who arrived in India, as described in the scope above, between 9 th December to 23rd December (3rd & 4th week) will be shared with respective State / District Surveillance Officers for daily follow up till 14 days after their arrival in India, the ministry further stated.

All the community contacts (without any exception) of those travellers who have tested positive would be subjected to institutional quarantine in separate quarantine centers and would be tested between 5-10th day as per current ICMR guidelines using RT-PCR. The same procedure for Covid-19 and new Covid-19 variant will follow as stated above.

The information regarding any passenger covered within the scope of this SOP, who travels to another State will be immediately notified to the concerned State Health Authority. "If any passenger is not traceable initially or during any duration while being followed up should be immediately notified to Central Surveillance Unit of IDSP by the District Surveillance Officer," the health ministry stated.

India on Monday put a temporary ban on flights originating from UK amid fears of new Covid-19 strain emerging there.

Countries around the world have begun banning flights and travellers from Britain as London said Sunday the spread of a more-infectious new coronavirus strain was now "out of control".

France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Ireland and Bulgaria all announced restrictions on UK travel, hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that Christmas shopping and gatherings in southern England must be cancelled because of rapidly spreading infections blamed on the new coronavirus variant.