Chennai

Many international flights cancelled following COVID-19 scare

Amid escalating threat of COVID-19, at least three international flights to Chennai scheduled to land late on Wednesday night were cancelled, sources in the intelligence agencies said on Thursday.

With few passengers, mostly Indian nationals returning home and foreigners on compelling trips landing at Chennai International Airport since Tuesday after the COVID-19 scare spread across South Asian countries, the Frankfurt-Chennai-Frankfurt Lufthansa flights LH-758/759, Bangkok-Chennai-Bangkok Thai Airways flights TG 337/338 and Hong Kong-Chennai-Hong Kong Cathay Pacific flights CX 631/632 were cancelled.

While airline officials refused to comment on the reasons for the cancellations, airport sources said these flights had announced operations as per schedule on Thursday.

“The flow of passengers in the international terminal has drastically come down in the last few days. There have been many cancellations after the spread of COVID-19. Adequate immigration and health officials have been deployed for conducting medical screening of all passengers irrespective of their nationalities,” a police official told The Hindu.

While the medical screening was made compulsory for passengers arriving from 12 countries on Monday, the Government of India extended it to cover all passengers irrespective of their nationalities and country of origin.

All Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs) were told to liaise with airport authorities and carry out medical screening of passengers. While foreigners refusing to cooperate with the authorities in the screening or sharing details of their stay would be denied entry, Indians shall be compulsorily quarantined, police sources said.

“It may be ensured that the phone number, address of all passengers (Indians and foreigners) coming from these destinations may be compulsorily collected. Those Indians who do not divulge the information may be cautioned of compulsory quarantine and those foreigners who do not provide information may not be given entry,” the Ministry of Home Affairs said in a note to FRROs.

These measures will be in addition to passengers giving an undertaking that they don’t have symptoms of COVID-19. “Passengers from a few countries have been asked to get a certificate from the competent health authority in their respective cities that they tested negative to COVID-19.” Sources in the Chennai Port Trust said that the Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, reviewed through video conferencing the measures taken to prevent COVID-19 with port officials across the country. “Instructions have been issued to start 100% screening of all the crew and passengers of foreign vessels irrespective of the country on arrival. A team of health officials was being sent to Delhi for a training programme on the latest instructions on precautionary measures to be taken to avert the spread of COVID-19,” a port official said.

Southern Railway issued an alert to all major stations on the preventive steps to be taken and announcements were made informing passengers that they could contact the respective Train Captains or Station Managers in case of any COVID-19 symptoms. Travelling Ticket Inspectors were told to keep a watch on sick passengers.

Chairing a high-leaving meeting at the headquarters Principal Chief Medical Director B P Nanda said an advisory had been sent to medical and paramedical staff at 28 emergency centres across the zone on the precautionary measures.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 7:59:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/many-international-flights-cancelled-following-covid-19-scare/article30994809.ece

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