Five passengers travelling on Air India’s London-Delhi flight tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival Tuesday, a day after the Ministry of Civil Aviation announced mandatory testing of all passengers coming from the United Kingdom due to the emergence of the new strain of Covid-19.
Officials said that four flights from the UK to Delhi were scheduled for the day. “Out of around 500 passengers arriving on the first two flights, five tested positive,” said an official of the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL).
The Delhi government said it will check the health condition of passengers who have arrived here recently from the UK, by visiting their houses.
“The Delhi government is on alert in the wake of a mutated coronavirus strain detected in the UK. The situation is being closely monitored and mandatory tests are being conducted at the Delhi airport for all passengers arriving from that country,” said Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain.
In the last two weeks, about 6,000-7,000 people have landed at Delhi airport, many of whom would have travelled to other places like Punjab from thereon, Jain said. “We will go house-to-house and do check-up of passengers to assess their condition, and also advise them to isolate themselves for some time,” he said.
According to senior health officials, the government is chalking out a plan to isolate and quarantine passengers. “We have identified Lok Nayak Hospital where the passengers who have been tested positive will be taken while those who have tested negative may have an option to go either to the paid or unpaid isolation facility. The final decision on the centres is yet to be taken,” said a senior official from the state health department. At present, two hotels have been set aside for quarantine for positive and symptomatic patients — Marriot and Aerocity.
Following the announcement of suspension of flights from the UK, the Delhi Airport issued an advisory that
RT-PCR tests would be mandatory for all those traveling from the UK before midnight of December 22.
“Earlier, passengers who had been exempted via Air Suvidha and had a negative test report did not have to take the test. But in view of the new strain, RT-PCR tests were made compulsory for them,” the official added.
The flight landed around 11.30 pm on Monday. Passengers arriving on these flights were greeted with goodies upon entering the airport. A separate waiting lounge was created for those arriving from the UK and waiting for their test reports. The last two flights are scheduled to arrive at 11:15 pm and 11:30 pm on Tuesday night.
According to a DIAL official, the Delhi Airport is fully prepared to handle and distribute Covid vaccines “even if the government announces that it will come in tomorrow”.
DIAL CEO Videh Kumar Jaipuriar told the media Tuesday, “We have a storage capacity of 27 lakh vaccines at any given point for Delhi Airport. So, we can distribute 54 lakh vials, if we are able to complete two rotations in a day.”
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