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Omicron scare: Teams deployed at Telangana airport to screen passengers from 12 ‘at-risk’ countries

Although Hyderabad International Airport witnesses the arrival of nearly 5,000 international passengers every day, only a small per cent of them are from the at-risk countries.

By: Express Web Desk | Hyderabad |
December 1, 2021 2:14:57 pm
The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) in Hyderabad.

With the new International Travel Guidelines kicking in from Tuesday midnight, the Telangana Health Department deployed 10 teams at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) to track and trace international travellers, especially those arriving from the twelve at-risk countries. As of Wednesday noon, 18 international flights have arrived at RGIA and seven others are expected on time.

Meanwhile, all 200 passengers who arrived on a British Airways flight tested negative, informed airport officials. Although Hyderabad International Airport witnesses the arrival of nearly 5,000 international passengers every day, only a small per cent of them are from the at-risk countries where the Omicron variant of the virus have been reported, said an official.

As per the new guidelines, passengers arriving from South Africa, the United Kingdoms, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel have to mandatorily undergo RT-PCR tests at the airport.

Passengers who test positive will be shifted to Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) in Gachibowli and others will be asked to isolate themselves at home.

Arrangements have been made at the airport to perform random tests of samples from 5 per cent of travellers from other countries. Director of Health Dr G Srinivas Rao had told the media Tuesday that all passengers will have to share 14-day travel history, a negative RT-PCR test certificate, vaccine certificates and follow general protocol such as mandatory thermal screening.

Meanwhile, several scheduled international flyers have taken to Twitter seeking clarity on the 14-day negative quarantine for interstate travellers. “@RGIAHyd I am traveling from Singapore to Hyderabad and further to Mumbai via domestic travel. please let me know whether I will be allowed to take domestic airline if I am tested negative on arrival at Hyderabad airport,” tweeted @PrashanH647.

RGIA authorities referred his query to @MoHFW_India when he said, “I read this document and there is 7 day home quarantine if tested negative.. but no where its mentioned whether I can take further domestic flight to my destination(Mumbai)”.

The estimated wait time for test results is also one of the queries posed by scheduled travellers.

In a statement, a spokesperson of GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL) said they were aware of the requirements of the new advisory in the wake of a fresh travel advisory following rising cases of infection by a new strain of coronavirus in some parts of the world.

“We would be ready with all necessary arrangements on time keeping in mind the fresh guidelines and passenger convenience. We have made similar arrangements earlier as well during previous waves of the pandemic. We will ensure adherence to Covid-19 protocols during the stay of passengers inside the terminal,” the official said.

The airport has arranged a waiting area for about 400 passengers to wait until their test results are shared by the lab. A regular RT-PCR test here is priced at Rs 999 and takes about six hours for the result, whereas a rapid RT-PCR test is also available for Rs 4,500. The result is obtained in less than two hours.

On Tuesday, Dr Rao noted that 41 passengers from Europe, Singapore and the UK were tested at the airport Monday and none tested positive. He said 90 per cent of Telangana’s population has received the first dose of vaccination while only 46 per cent are fully-vaccinated. The department has set a target for inoculating the entire population by December 31.

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