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Omicron Scare: Union Health Secy Directs Maharashtra To Align COVID Curbs With Centre's

The Centre on Wednesday contested against the guidelines issued by the Maharashtra government for the international passengers arriving from high-risk nations.

Image: PTI


The Centre on Wednesday contested against the guidelines issued by the Maharashtra government for the international passengers arriving in Maharashtra from ‘high-risk’ countries. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to the Maharashtra Additional Chief Secretary, Health, Dr Pradeep Vyas Wednesday asking him to revise the recently announced guidelines as they are against the policy of the Centre. 

In a letter, the health secretary further urged the Maharashtra government to align its rules with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health. The letter further persuades the government to abide by the Centre’s policy, so that a uniform implementation of the guidelines may be ensured across all States/UTs.

The letter read, “I would, therefore, urge you to align the Orders issued by the State with the Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. Of India, so that uniform implementation of the guidelines may be ensured across all States/UTs.”

 After six South African passengers tested COVID positive in Maharashtra on Tuesday, the state government issued fresh travel guidelines for International passengers arriving from ‘at high-risk’ countries on the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday, amid the ongoing Omicron scare. 

Maharashtra govt announces mandatory quarantine for international passengers arriving from high-risk nations

On Tuesday night, the Maharashtra government issued guidelines mandating institutional quarantine for all the passengers arriving from ‘at risk nations’ designated by the Centre, including South Africa, UK, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel. The guidelines were as follows:

  1. Mandatory RT-PCR testing of all international travellers at the Mumbai airport, irrespective of country of origin.
  2. Mandatory 14-day home quarantine for all international passengers, despite being tested RT-PCR Negative upon arrival.
  3. Mandatory RT-PCR test for passengers planning to undertake connecting flights after disembarking at Mumbai and further travel subject to a negative RT- PCR result.
  4. Requirement of negative RT- PCR test 48 hours prior to the date of journey, for domestic passengers travelling from other States to Maharashtra.

6 South African passengers test positive in Maharashtra

This comes after the six passengers arriving from South Africa and other at-risk nations tested positive and their samples were sent for genome sequencing for further screening for the Omicron variant. Two passengers from Nigeria were spotted in the Pimpri-Chinchwad corporation region, which is close to Pune. Apart from this, one each has been spotted in the municipal corporation borders of Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivali, Mira-Bhayandar, and Pune, among people who have arrived from South Africa and other countries. 

The state government is now tracing and testing their primary and secondary contacts to mitigate the spread of the virus. To date, the Omicron variant has not been detected in India. However, it has been found in 19 countries across the globe. The variant has raised the alarm as it consists of a large number of mutations in the spike protein. The WHO has termed it a ‘variant of concern,' on the basis of mutations. Speculations are rife that it can be more transmissible and may have a potential for immune escape.

With PTI Inputs
Image: PTI

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