COVID-19 New Strain: Health Ministry Issues SOPs For State Governments And Airports

The Health Ministry Tuesday released a new standard operating procedure (SOP) in view of the new strain of coronavirus being detected in the UK.

As a result, after the current Ministry of Home Affairs orders expire on February 25, 2022, no further orders may be issued by the MHA

The Health Ministry on Tuesday issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for epidemiological surveillance and response in the context of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus detected in the United Kingdom (UK).

The latest SOP has come amid rising precautions over the discovery of a new strain of coronavirus in the UK, six passengers from the country—one in Chennai and five in Delhi—have tested positive for the pathogen.

According to the fresh SOP, RT-PCR tests will be made mandatory on arrival and separate isolation centers will be set up for those who test positive for the new coronavirus strain.

“In the interim, it has been decided that passengers arriving from the UK on all international flights (flights in transit) should be subjected to mandatory RT PCR tests on arrival,” Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted.

All direct flights connecting the UK and India will remain suspended from Wednesday till December 31, the civil aviation ministry said on Monday.

All international travellers as described above will be required to declare as per existing procedure their travel history (of past 14 days) and fill up the Self Declaration Form to be screened for Covid.

SOPs for COVID New Strain

All passengers coming from the UK during the period from December 21 to 23 shall be subjected to the following process:

  1. Respective state governments shall ensure that all passengers travelling from or transiting through airports in the UK and disembarking in India would be subjected to RT-PCR test on arrival.
  2. In the case of a positive sample, it is recommended that spike gene-based RT-PCR test should also be performed by an appropriate laboratory.
  3. Further, passengers testing positive will be sent to the institutional isolation facility by respective state authorities.
  4. If they are detected to be carrying the current COVID-19 strain, they will be administered the ongoing treatment protocol, including home isolation or treatment at facility level depending on the severity of the disease.
  5. If the person is found to be carrying the new variant of SARS-CoV-2, then he/she will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit.
  6. Those who are found negative on testing with RT-PCR at the airport would be advised quarantine at home.
  7. The concerned airlines shall ensure that prior to check-in, the traveler 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 the arrival area and waiting area of the airports.
  8. The ministry stated with regard to SOPs to be followed by state governments: “All the contacts (without any exception) of those travelers who arrived at various airports on 21st-23rd December 2020 and tested positive would be subjected to institutional quarantine in separate quarantine centers and would be tested as per ICMR guidelines.”
  9. Further, those international travelers from the UK who have arrived in India from November 25 to December 8 (1st and 2nd week from November 25) will be contacted by District Surveillance Officers and advised to self-monitor their health.
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