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While the resumption of flights between India and United Kingdom may be good news to passengers in urgent need of travel, the government has said the current lifting of ban is valid till January 30 and subject to further orders.
Following the news that a more infectious strain of the COVID-19 virus has surfaced in the UK, India had suspended flights between the two countries on December 23, 2020. Several travellers who had arrived in India during that time had tested positive for the new variant (called B.1.1.7. 82) of SARS-CoV-2. The Indian government cancelled flights to check the spread of this new strain of highly infectious mutated variant. Not just India, a few other nations including Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Netherlands had also suspended flights to the UK temporarily.
However, flights from India to the UK were restarted on January 6 this year and from the UK to England on January 8.
However, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) valid till January 30, 2021, in the context of regulated resumption of limited flights originating from the UK to India from January 8.
According to the SOP, the resumption of flight services is to be done in a calibrated manner by initially allowing flight movement to/from the UK to four international airports i.e. Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai only. The SOP has outlined a host of guidelines, including carrying COVID-19 negative reports with test done 72 hours before start of journey, submission of self-declaration form on the online portal at least 72 hours before the scheduled travel, all passengers arriving from UK in all international flights to be mandatorily subjected to self-paid RT-PCR tests on arrival at the Indian airports concerned (port of entry), institutional isolation for passengers testing positive on arrival, etc.
With more than 40 countries around the world reporting cases of the new highly infectious variety and the world still grappling with the havoc caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the highly transmissible nature of the new variant cannot be taken lightly. India definitely cannot risk another wave of any strain of the coronavirus.
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