Updated: November 24, 2020 10:52:18 am
Starting November 25, people arriving in Mumbai and elsewhere in Maharashtra from Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa by air and train must carry with them a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test report done three to four days before arrival, or they will be tested on arrival.
The Maharashtra government introduced the requirement a day after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar hinted at the possibility of putting in place curbs over the movement of people in view of the threat of a second wave of coronavirus cases post Diwali.
The order, issued by Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar, stated that the standard operating procedure for persons travelling by air, train or road was issued “after careful consideration of planning of containment areas and availability of health infrastructure, for the strict implementation by the concerned authorities of all the departments in the state of Maharashtra.”
While Maharashtra is recording less than 5,000 cases every day, cases are gradually rising in Mumbai post Diwali. On November 16, BMC reported 409 new cases, which rose to 1,135 cases on November 22. Mumbai is contributing to nearly one-fifth of the state’s new case load.
On Monday, Maharashtra recorded 4,152 new cases, of them 800 were from Mumbai. There are 81,902 actively infected Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra. Officials are fearful that with unregulated movement of people post Diwali there could be a spike in cases in the state and in cities like Mumbai.
The new travel guidelines issued Monday say that all domestic passengers travelling from airports in Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa shall carry a RT-PCR negative test report and are required to show it on arrival at the airport. Air passengers are required to have undergone the RT-PCR test three days before their arrival in Maharashtra, it said.
Passengers arriving without a Covid negative test report will have to compulsorily undergo the RT-PCR test at the airport at their own cost. The passengers will be allowed to go home only after undertaking the test. The airport shall arrange the testing centres and charge the passengers directly for testing, it added. At railway stations, those without Covid test reports will need to undergo antigen tests.
“Passengers shall carry the Covid negative reports. If they do not carry, then they will be tested upon their arrival at the airport. If their report is positive they will be put in institutional quarantine as per norms,” said Kumar.
Another official said that those with Covid negative report can leave the airport rightaway. Those without will be tested, and will be allowed to leave. “They will be contacted if their test turns up positive, and will be treated as per the protocol,” said the official.
Similarly, rail passengers coming to Maharashtra from stations originating at or having a halt at stations in Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa are required to carry RT-PCR negative test report before entering the state. Train passengers are required to have undergone the RT-PCR test four days before their arrival in Maharashtra, it added.
However, railway passengers not having RT-PCR test negative report would be screened for symptoms and body temperature at the alighting railway stations. Passengers without symptoms would be allowed to go home but those who show symptoms will be made to undergo antigen test. The passengers will be allowed to go home if their antigen test comes negative, it added.
For people entering the state by road, the district Collectors concerned of land border districts are required to make arrangements to ensure that passengers coming from Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa shall be tested for symptoms including body temperature. Passengers with symptoms will be segregated and made to undergo antigen test. Those testing negative will be allowed to travel further into Maharashtra, it added. Positive cases will be sent to Covid Care Centres. Those who do not want to take the test have the option of turning back, or be sent to Covid Care Centres.
Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation Vijay Wadettiwar on Monday said that if needed, in the next eight days, after careful study of the number of cases we will decide whether there is a need for a complete lockdown or imposition of some curbs or adding new conditions. “Such measures will have to be taken because peoples’ lives are important,” he said.
A spokesperson from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj international airport said, “Those who come with RT-PCR negative report will be allowed to proceed. Those who have not undergone a test will be directed to a kiosk for testing. The price for RT-PCR test is fixed at Rs 1,400.”x
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