This happened moments before the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued an SOP for the mentioned resumption of the flights between the UK and India.
Although the flights are to be resumed, the Indian government is going to be operating only 15 flights per week, that too only for the four major metros, i.e., Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad.
It has been decided that flights between India & UK will resume from 8 Jan 2021.
Operations till 23 Jan will be restricted to 15 flights per week each for carriers of the two countries to & from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru & Hyderabad only. @DGCAIndia will issue the details shortly
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) January 1, 2021
The health ministry in its SOP has mentioned that “DGCA would ensure adequate spacing between flights scheduled to arrive at Indian airports to avoid any crowding during the testing protocol. DGCA will also strictly monitor that the airlines do not allow any passengers to travel from UK to India through a transit airport of third country, to ensure there are no omissions in the monitoring of those passengers.”
Here are some of the other guidelines issued by the MOHFW:
- All passengers should submit self-declaration form on the online portal at least 72 hours before the scheduled travel.
- All the passengers arriving from U.K. should be carrying Negative RT-PCR Test Report for which test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey. The same also shall be uploaded on the online portal.
- Airlines to ensure the availability of negative test report before allowing the passenger to board the flight.
- In-flight announcements must also be made explaining the relevant information to the passengers. Relevant information in this regard shall be prominently displayed in arrival area and waiting area of the airports of arrival.
- All the passengers arriving from UK in all international flights would be mandatorily subjected to self-paid RT-PCR tests on arrival at the Indian airports concerned (port of entry). vii. Adequate arrangements for passengers waiting for their RT-PCR test as well as test results duly following effective isolation may also be made at the airports in conjunction with the airport authorities.
- Passengers testing positive shall be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate (isolation) unit coordinated by the respective State Health Authorities. They would earmark specific facilities for such isolation and treatment and take necessary action to send the positive samples to Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Labs.
- If the report of the sequencing is consistent with the current SARS-CoV-2 virus genome circulating in the country; the ongoing treatment protocol including home isolation/treatment at facility level as per case severity may be followed.
- If the genomic sequencing indicates the presence of new variant of SARSCoV-2 then the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit. While necessary treatment as per the existing protocol will be given, the patient shall be tested on 14th day, after having tested positive in the initial test. The patient will be kept in the isolation facility till his sample is tested negative.
- Those who are found negative on testing with RT-PCR at the airport would be advised quarantine at home for 14 days and regularly followed up by the concerned State/District IDSP.
- Information regarding any passenger covered within the scope of this SOP, who has moved to another State will be immediately notified to the concerned State Health Authority. If any passenger is not traceable initially or during any duration while being followed up should be immediately notified to Central Surveillance Unit of IDSP by the District Surveillance Officer.
You can read the entirety of the SOP issued by the MOHFW here.
Earlier, the government of India had banned flights from UK to India on December 21 after the highly contagious new strain of coronavirus was discovered in the UK. The ban was then extended after the passengers that arrived from UK were tested positive for the new coronavirus strain.