In the latest guidelines issued by Maharashtra, passengers from other than 'at-risk' countries will have to undergo a compulsory RT-PCR test at Mumbai airport. (File image)
The Maharashtra government has made the RT-PCR test compulsory for all passengers arriving at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, as concerns grow over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
The reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test will also be compulsory for domestic passengers flying in from other states of the country, the revised guidelines issued on November 30 said.
Maharashtra's Health Minister Rajesh Tope, though a few hours later specified that 'a fully-vaccinated local domestic passenger can travel without RT-PCR'.
For passengers arriving from 'at-risk' countries, a seven-day institutional quarantine will be mandatory as well. Such passengers will also undergo the RT-PCR test on the second, fourth and seventh day of arrival.
Passengers testing positive will be shifted to a hospital. If the test returns negative, the passenger will still have to undergo seven-day home quarantine.
Air passengers from other than “at-risk” countries will have to undergo a compulsory RT-PCR test at the Mumbai airport.
Even if found negative, they will have to undergo 14-day home quarantine. If positive, the patient will be shifted to a hospital, the guidelines said.
The RT-PCR test will be a must for passengers taking connecting flights after disembarking at the Mumbai airport.
Domestic passengers would have to carry negative RT-PCR test reports for samples tested 48 hours prior to the date of journey, the guidelines said.
Also read | Centre mandates 7-day quarantine for travellers coming from 'at-risk' countries
The Centre has said the guidelines were at variance with the standard operating procedure laid down by it.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, "This is in divergence with the SoPs & Guidelines issued by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of lndia. 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 lndia, so that uniform implementation of the guidelines may be ensured across all States/UTs."
Countries designated as "at-risk" by the Centre include all the counties in Europe, the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.
Countries around the world are imposing travel curbs to delay the import of the Omicron strain that was flagged by South Africa in late November and described as “variant of concern” by WHO.
Though details about the highly mutated strain will emerge in the days to come, there are fears that it may be more be infectious and possibly evade vaccines.