Centre asks Maharashtra to modify quarantine guidelines for air travellers

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in a letter, says that the order issued by Maharashtra is in divergence with the COVID-19 SoPs and guidelines issued by the health ministry

Mumbai airport
Maharashtra has mandated seven-day institutional quarantine for travellers arriving in the state from at-risk countries under the guidelines issued by the State Disaster Management Authority on Tuesday night | Photo: iStock

After the Maharashtra government revised the guidelines on quarantine for international passengers in view of concerns over the Omicron variant, the Centre on Wednesday asked the state to align its order with the regulations issued by the Union health ministry. 

Maharashtra has mandated seven-day institutional quarantine for travellers arriving in the state from at-risk countries under the guidelines issued by the State Disaster Management Authority on Tuesday night. Such passengers will also undergo RT-PCR test on the second, fourth and seventh day of arrival. If found to be COVID-19 positive, the passenger will be shifted to a hospital. In case the test is negative, the passenger will still have to undergo seven-day home quarantine. 

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in a letter, said that the order issued by Maharashtra is in divergence with the COVID-19 SoPs and guidelines issued by the health ministry. 

“I would, therefore, urge you to align the orders issued by the state with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, Government of India, so that uniform implementation of the guidelines may be ensured across all states and UTs,” Bhushan said.

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“I would also advise that such modified orders of the state government are given wide publicity to obviate any inconvenience to travellers,” he said in the letter addressed to Pradeep Kumar Vyas, additional chief secretary of the state’s Department of Health & Family Welfare. 

Also read: Omicron alert: India stalls plan to resume normal international flights from December 15

Under the new guidelines issued by the Union health ministry on November 28, passengers originating or transiting from at-risk countries will have to undergo RT-PCR testing post-arrival and will be required to wait for the results at the airport before leaving or taking a connecting flight.

Travellers from countries excluding those nations at risk will be allowed to leave the airport and self-monitor their health for 14 days post-arrival, but 5 per cent of the total flight passengers will have to undergo post-arrival testing at random at the airport on arrival.

However, according to the Maharashtra government guidelines, passengers from other than at-risk countries will have to undergo a compulsory RT-PCR test at the airport. Even if found negative, they will have to undergo 14-day home quarantine. The list of at-risk countries has been announced by the Union government. According to an updated list, the countries designated as at-risk are the European states, the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.

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