Kerala announces 7-day quarantine for international passengers amid Omicron threat

Kerala Health Minister Veena George

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Saturday announced a strict quarantine of seven days for those arriving from abroad in view of the emergence of Omicron, a new variant of the coronavirus, reported abroad.

If tested positive for the coronavirus, their samples will be sent for further tests to ascertain the variant.

"As of now there is no cause for concern in the state. Things are under control. The state has taken all precautionary steps as per the guidelines of the Centre and surveillance would be strengthened at all airports," Health Minister Veena George said.

"The new variant had not been reported in Kerala so far. But in the wake of reports of a new variant, the accepted Covid protocols -- use of sanitisers, masks and social distancing -- have to be strictly observed. With regard to quarantine for those arriving from abroad, the Centre's guidelines are expected and we will also be cautious on that aspect," said George.

Urging everyone to follow the COVID guidelines strictly, she also said those who have not been vaccinated yet should take the jab at the earliest.

RT-PCR test before and after arrival

According to the central guidelines, all passengers arriving in the country from abroad should undergo an RT-PCR test within 72 hours and upload it in the Air Suvidha portal.

Test samples will be collected for an RT-PCR test after the quarantine as well.

The suspected samples of the passengers coming from these countries would be sent for genetic testing for virus variants.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called for a proactive approach and a review of plans for easing of international travel curbs.

The Civil Aviation Ministry had announced the resumption of scheduled international flights to and from India from December 15 after 20 months of coronavirus-induced suspension.

Modi directed that genome sequencing samples be collected from international travellers and community as per norms, tested through the network of labs already established under the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) and early warning signals identified for COVID-19 management, the statement said.

The Union Health Ministry on Friday said the countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom, and South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel have been put in the 'at-risk' category.

The scare of the new variant comes at a time when Kerala for the past few months has been registering 50 per cent of the daily new cases in the country, and has a similar record of having a high percentage of the total number of active cases.

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