The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday modified its order to extend the suspension on international flights till January 31. The DGCA also said that international flights to and from the United Kingdom will remain suspended till January 7.
The suspension comes in the wake of the discovery of cases of a new infectious strain of SARS-Cov-2, first detected in the United Kingdom. The union health ministry on December 30 recommended the civil aviation ministry to extend the suspension of India-UK flights till January 7, news agency PTI reported. The recommendation was based on inputs from the joint monitoring group headed by director general of health services (DGHS) and the National Task Force headed by DG, Indian Council of Medical Research. The health ministry will subject samples of all international passengers who arrived in India from December 9 to 22 and tested positive for Covid-19, to genome sequencing in order to detected the mutated Covid-19 strain.
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“All the international passengers who have arrived in India during the last 14 days (from December 9 to 22), if symptomatic and tested positive, will be subjected to genome sequencing,” the union health ministry said in a statement on December 30.
The civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday said that flights will resume in a strictly regulated manner after January 7, 2021. “Decision has been taken to extend the temporary suspension of flights to & from the UK till 7 January 2021. Thereafter strictly regulated resumption will take place for which details will be announced shortly,” Puri said on Twitter.
The government has launched efforts to track down thousands of people who have entered India from UK in the past few weeks. More than 25 nations have suspended air travel with the United Kingdom over the new Covid-19 strain.
Scheduled international flights were suspended in India since March 23 in order to stop the spread of coronavirus. Special international flights operated within air bubbles arrangements with other countries since July.
The DGCA has exempted international cargo flights from the modified suspension order. The order also outlined that the suspension will not apply on flights specifically approved by the DGCA.