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Mumbai: BMC on high alert to tackle 'Omicron' threat

07:00 AM Nov 30, 2021 | Kalpesh Mhamunkar

MUMBAI: Amid growing concerns over the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) seems to have stepped upon a mission to take all due precautions to keep the new strain of the virus at bay. In a virtual meeting held on Saturday, BMC chief Iqbal Singh Chahal discussed in detail strategies to trace passengers who have arrived in the city from the affected countries.

In a meeting that was attended by senior representatives of the Airport, Mumbai Police, major hospitals and all BMC departments, all possible measures and restrictions to deal with the new variants were discussed. Talking to the senior officials, Chahal declared that extreme precautions should be taken across Mumbai. Chahal directed authorities at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, all the civic departments and ward officials and the Mumbai police to take all necessary precautions at their respective levels.

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He directed the representative Airport authorities present in the meeting to instruct all the airlines that once a ticket is booked they must take declarations from incoming passengers about their health. Also, an announcement should be made on the plane. If an airline finds a passenger who visited affected countries in the last 15 days, he /she should be isolated from the others pax. Further, Chahal also threw light on testing, quarantine facilities too.

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Meanwhile, a BMC official said: "All Jumbo Covid Centers will be re-inspected to ensure their proper functioning to tackle if the situation gets worse. The stock of medicines, manpower, production and storage of oxygen, electrical and fire fighting system to be reviewed from time to time as instructed by the BMC commissioner."

While addressing the representatives from all departments Chahal informed them that he has already written a letter to the State government to request the Central Government to cancel all the incoming international flights from South Africa and other affected countries to avoid the chances of an outbreak in Mumbai. If not, then institutional quarantine should be made compulsory or testing of all domestic passengers should be considered, Chahal has requested State government.

Chahal has also requested the Central Government to reduce the gap of two doses from 84 days to 28 days once again so that all the citizens would be fully vaccinated soon.

Further, the 24 ward war rooms of BMC which had downsizsed their working capacity owing to a decline in the number of cases going have been stepped up to function in their full capacity. The ward war rooms have been one of the biggest highlights of the civic body in its fight against the virus during the first & second covid wave.

A BMC official from the Disaster Management cell said, "We are put on alert to handle Covid-19 related calls on priority, however, till now no surge in daily calls has been reported since the outbreak of Omicron variant. We will issue revised guidelines based on directions from the state and Central government."

According to BMC officials, around 1,000 travellers have landed at Mumbai Airport in the last 20 days of which 466 were from Maharashtra and 97 from Mumbai. All of these citizens from Mumbai have reported being negative for Covid-19. However, their RT-PCR testing is under process by the BMC.

Meanwhile Union Health Ministry on Sunday revised the guidelines for international arrivals in India to be effective from December 1. The government also mandated the submitting 14 days travel details, uploading negative. RT-PCR test report on Air Suvidha portal before the journey.

As per Health Ministry’s guidelines, the travellers from ‘countries at-risk' will need to take the COVID test post-arrival and wait for results at the airport. If tested negative they’ll follow, home quarantine for 7 days.

It is important to note that a re-test will be done on the 8th day & if negative, the traveller will have to further go to self-monitor for the next 7 days.

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