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Punjab: 125 passengers of Italy-Amritsar flight test Covid positive on arrival

While 13 of the passengers were from Amritsar district, the biggest group of 26 was from Hoshiarpur in the state, 10 from Haryana and one each from Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
Updated: January 7, 2022 7:00:35 am
A file image of the international airport in Amritsar. (Express Photo by Jasbir Malhi)

The international airport at Amritsar witnessed chaos on Thursday as a chartered flight from Rome landed with 179 passengers, of whom 125 tested positive for Covid-19.

While 13 of the passengers were from Amritsar, the biggest group of 26 was from Hoshiarpur in the state, 10 from Haryana and one each from Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir.

The situation at the airport turned tense as a war of words ensued between the administration and the passengers, who said that all of them had produced negative Covid-19 reports before boarding the flight and that it was highly unlikely that so many of them had tested positive on arrival.

The chartered flight, owned by New Delhi-based SARC Aviation, landed at Amritsar airport at 4.20 am on Thursday.

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Outside the airport, relatives of the passengers raised slogans against the Punjab government and the Centre, alleging a “conspiracy” behind the high number of Covid cases on board the flight.

Gurinder Kaur, who had come to pick up her husband, said, “They were negative for Covid when they boarded the flight. How could they have turned positive during the eight-hour-long flight? It was mandatory to procure Covid negative reports not older than 72 hours before boarding the flight in Italy. This is impossible.”

Tempers flared further as ambulances arrived at the airport to take passengers to the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital in Amritsar.

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“We have taken all the 13 passengers to the hospital. There have been instructions from the government to not allow home isolation for international passengers who test positive. They will be observed and treated at the hospital,” said Amritsar Chief Medical Officer Charanjit Singh.

When asked about the allegations of the passengers, he said, “We tested all the passengers and there were many who tested negative. There is no conspiracy.”

According to the international arrival guidelines specified by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, passengers from at-risk countries are required to submit their samples for a “self-paid” Covid-19 test at the point of arrival. Italy is among “countries in Europe including The United Kingdom”, besides 11 other countries, from where travellers flying to India will have to mandatorily test for Covid.

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First published on: 06-01-2022 at 03:46:00 pm

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