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Omicron threat: Maharashtra carves out own list of 'high-risk' nations

11:38 PM Dec 02, 2021 | OUR POLITICAL EDITOR

MUMBAI: Amid growing threat of Omicron and the Centre’s rap, the Maharashtra government on Thursday revised the COVID-19 guidelines for international passengers.

According to the revised guidelines, domestic passengers, who are fully vaccinated, need not carry an RT-PCR test report. However, domestic travellers who are not fully vaccinated must carry a negative RT-PCR report, the outcome of a test done not more than 72 hours before boarding the flight.

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In its revised guidelines, the Maharashtra government has carved out a list of ‘high-risk countries’ -- South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. ''The categorisation as ‘high risk’ is a dynamic exercise based on the evolving situation of the 'Omicron' variant and will be updated as required by the state government," the guidelines state.

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Those air passengers shall be deemed as ‘high risk’ who are either coming from ‘high risk nations’ to Maharashtra, or those who have visited any of these countries in the past 15 days, before arrival in the state.

These arrivals may be deplaned on priority and separate counters will be arranged at all international airports in the state for their screening and verification. They will undergo RT-PCR test immediately on arrival and a mandatory 7-day ‘institutional quarantine’ with a second RT-PCR test to be carried out on the 7th day. If any of the tests is found to be positive, then such passengers shall be shifted to a hospital with Covid treatment facilities, the guidelines state.

In case the result of the test on the 7th day comes negative, the passenger will have to undergo seven days of home quarantine.

The DCP immigration and FRRO will, in turn, document the declarations of all international arrivals about the countries visited by them in the previous fortnight. MIAL will share the details with all airlines. The information about travel history shall be crosschecked by immigration. Any incorrect information furnished by the passenger shall lead to action under relevant sections of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the guidelines add.

Today’s revised order came after the Centre on Wednesday asked the state government to align itself with the national guidelines for their uniform pan-India implementation.

The state government in its guidelines issued on Tuesday had made 7-day institutional quarantine mandatory for travellers arriving in the state from all ‘at risk’ countries. The government had further said that such passengers will undergo RT-PCR test on the second, fourth and seventh day of arrival. If found to be COVID 19 positive, the passenger shall be shifted to a hospital. In case the test is negative, the passenger will still have to undergo a 7-day home quarantine.

The Centre had taken serious objection to the imposition of mandatory RT-PCR testing of all international travelers at the Mumbai airport, irrespective of country of origin and mandatory 14-day home quarantine for all international passengers despite being tested RT-PCR negative upon arrival.

Further, the Centre had objected to the state government’s move to impose mandatory RT-PCR test for passengers planning to undertake connecting flights after disembarking at Mumbai and further travel subject to negative RT-PCR results.

There was also a requirement of negative RT-PCR test 48 hours prior to date of journey for domestic passengers travelling from other states to Maharashtra.

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