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Assam likely to revise SOP for fliers in the wake of Omicron alert

The Assam government might soon revise its SOP for fliers in the sudden wake of the worldwide alert over the new Omicron variant of COVID-19. Assam exempted fully vaccinated passengers from mandatory tests and screenings at airports until now. Authorities at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport have started screening and testing international fliers. They have also made quarantine compulsory until the RT-PCR test results arrive.

Dhruba Jyoti Hazarika, additional DC (health), Kamrup (Metro), mentioned that they are not allowing any international fliers to escape without testing. They have to undergo compulsory testing in spite of being fully vaccinated. Excuses are granted for fully vaccinated domestic fliers. Children between one and 10 years of age don’t have to undergo compulsory testing if their guardians are fully vaccinated. International fliers have to be in isolation till their RT-PCR test reports arrive. This usually takes a period of 48 hours. Hazarika also asserted that there has been no information about international travellers arriving from at-risk categorised nations, especially African nations.

The Health Department of the State had a meeting with the ICMR on Monday regarding genome sequencing of passengers coming from the "at-risk" countries. There are 12 "at-risk" countries. Assam does not have any direct flights from these nations. Thus, passengers bound for Assam from these nations can’t board connecting flights until their RT-PCR test report comes out negative. Anurag Goel, principal secretary to the health department of the state, stated this information.

As reported by ICMR sources, such passengers will be tested again on the eighth day of testing negative upon arrival at any international airport in the country. If these passengers are found positive, they will carry out genome sequencing to determine if the infection is due to the new variant.

District Administration officials of the various districts in Assam are looking forward to new guidelines from the state government. These expectations arose after sources in the health department mentioned that discussions were carried out to make COVID testing stricter on transit routes. A slight amount of tension could be witnessed among passengers after the tightening of rules in recent days. The state is expecting the government to publish fresh guidelines in the coming week. The state receives about 10 to 20 international fliers every day at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport. These fliers enter through other airports as the northeast does not have direct commercial connectivity with any of the foreign nations at present.



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