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West Bengal suspends direct flights to Kolkata from UK, all flights from at-risk countries from Jan 3

Passengers coming to West Bengal from non-at risk countries will have to mandatory undergo a test on arrival at their cost, the state government said.

December 30, 2021 / 06:43 PM IST
Representative image: AP

Representative image: AP


In view of the global Omicron spread, the West Bengal state government on December 30 informed the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) that it will temporarily suspend direct flights to Kolkata from the UK, along with all flights arriving to the state from "at-risk countries", with effect from January 3, 2022.

The at-risk countries, as notified by the Union health ministry, include South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong and Israel.

"In view of the rising number of Omicron cases globally as well within the

country, the state government has decided to temporarily and until further orders suspend all direct fights from United Kingdom to Kolkata with effect from 3rd January, 2022," the West Bengal government wrote to the MoCA.

"Flights, which is an at risk county as notified by MOHFW, Government of India, will not be allowed in the state and any NOCs which have been issued stand withdrawn," it said.

Additionally, passengers coming to West Bengal from non-at risk countries will also have to mandatory undergo a test on arrival at their cost, the state government added.

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The airlines will randomly select 10 percent of the passengers for RT-PCR test and the balance 90 percent shall undergo Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) at the arrival airport, it noted.

"Those found positive in the RAT test will have to further undergo RT-PCR tests as may be required by the health authorities."

All international passengers arriving in West Bengal have to mandatorily pre-book the test before boarding to reduce waiting time on arrival, "which the airlines must ensure prior to allowing the boarding", the state government further said.

Accordingly, the airport authorities may be asked to augment the holding capacity of the arrival lounge on the international side and also increase the number of testing counters so as to reduce the waiting time for the passengers at the airport, it added.

The restriction comes amid a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in Kolkata. The Bengal capital reported 540 new cases on December 29, whereas, a total of 1,089 infections were recorded across the state. Five persons in the state were detected with the highly contagious Omicron variant of coronavirus during the same period.
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