(Representative image: AP)
The Union government will review the decision on resumption of commercial international flight services as per evolving global scenario, amidst growing concerns over the new COVID variant Omicron, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said on November 28.
The government will also review the standard operating procedure on testing and surveillance of the incoming international passengers, especially those travelling from countries listed in the ‘at risk’ category.
The comments came via tweets from the ministry, after an urgent meeting chaired by the Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla at 11.30 am.
Earlier this week, the Civil Aviation Ministry had announced that regular international flight operations will be allowed from December 14 to all countries except for 14 countries where the COVID-19 pandemic is still not under control.
Genomic surveillance for the variants will be further strengthened and intensified, it added. Airport Health Officials (APHOs) and Port Health Officials (PHOs) will be sensitized for strict supervision of testing protocol at airports/ ports, the MHA spokesperson said in a tweet.
"Overall global situation in wake of Omicron virus was comprehensively reviewed. Various preventive measures in place and to be further strengthened were discussed," the spokesperson informed.
The meeting was held with various experts, Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, Dr. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Prime Minister, & senior officers from Health, Civil Aviation and other Ministries.
This meeting comes after PM Narendra Modi on November 27 directed government officials to review the plans for relaxing international travel restrictions amid worldwide apprehension over the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, first detected from South Africa this week, was on November 26 designated as a Variant of Concern by the World Health Organisation, which named it Omicron. A variant of concern is the WHO's top category of worrying COVID-19 variants.