Nearly 1,000 passengers from South Africa had landed at Mumbai International Airport since November 10, informed Aaditya Thackeray, the guardian minister for the Mumbai Suburban District on Monday while adding that the process of tracking and the contact tracing of these passengers had already begun.
“We do have information of all passengers who arrived in Mumbai from South Africa in the last few days. Those who landed here in the last ten days or so are being contacted by the municipal authorities for testing and are being questioned for any Covid-19 like symptoms,” Mr. Thackeray said, stating that arrangements are being made for institutional separation of passengers who tested positive.
Earlier, a 32-year-old resident of Dombivli town of Thane district, who arrived from South Africa last week, tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival at the Mumbai airport.
It has yet to be confirmed whether the person has been infected with the new Omicron variant of coronavirus. His blood sample has been sent for genome sequencing.
Kalyan-Dombivali municipal authorities said that the patient was absolutely stable and had been kept at the civic body’s Art Gallery isolation center.
The passenger had travelled from Cape Town to Delhi via Dubai on November 24. The person apparently had not come into contact with anyone after returning from South Africa, said municipal authorities.
A meeting of the State cabinet was held today morning amid rising concerns over the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that it would be easier to trace passengers as well as their contacts if international and domestic airlines across the country regularly shared passenger information with each other.
Stating that there was no reason to panic over the new Covid-19 Omicron variant as no cases had been detected till now, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope meanwhile said that schools (for classes 1 to 7) in the State would re-open from December 1.
Mr. Tope further said that parents should not worry about sending their children to school.
Meanwhile, in a letter to health officers of all districts and civic bodies in the State, the Maharashtra Health Services Director said that following COVID-19 appropriate behaviour which included maintaining correct physical distancing and the wearing of face masks and sanitizing had to be mandatorily followed during the re- opening of schools.
The guidelines stated that students should be provided information on washing hands, covering mouth and nose with a handkerchief or tissue while sneezing and coughing.
It further stated that schools in containment zones should not be opened and that teachers and students from such zones must not be allowed to come to school.
“Schools should be cleaned and surfaces that come in regular contact should be wiped with sodium hypochlorite. Schools which were used as quarantine centres should be cleaned and sanitised. Biometric attendance should be avoided and use of swimming pools has been prohibited,” read the guidelines, adding that any initiative that would cause crowding ought to be avoided.
Besides, it said that adequate distance should be maintained between students while they are standing in queues, in the playground and assembly points by making markings. Similar arrangements should be made in the library.