New Delhi: Amid rising concerns over the spread of a new variant of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom, the Ministry of Civil Aviation on Monday announced a temporary ban on flights connecting the country until December 31.
“This suspension to start w.e.f. 23.59 hours, 22nd December 2020,” the ministry tweeted. Besides, the incoming passengers must undergo a compulsory RT-PCR test upon arrival and seven-day quarantine shall be imposed upon them, the civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.
Earlier in the day, chief ministers Arvind Kejriwal and Ashok Gehlot warned the government of the mutant strain and urged to immediately ban the international flights connecting to the UK and other European countries.
The ministry’s decision comes after a top advisory body of the health ministry conducted a meeting to discuss the new variant of COVID-19, which is reportedly more infectious. Sources said experts from AIIMS and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), along with a representative from the World Health Organisation (WHO), attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, union health minister Harsh Vardhan urged the people not to panic. “The government is fully alert. In the last one year, as you all have seen, we took all necessary measures to ensure the safety of people,” the health minister said.
The mutant virus was first detected in southeast England in September. It is quickly becoming the dominant strain in London and other parts of the UK, and has led to surging infection numbers and fresh restrictions, casting a cloud on Christmas celebrations. Outside Britain, Italy has reported a patient, who had recently returned from the UK, infected with the mutant virus.