Tamil Nadu

Omicron | Tamil Nadu to test those from ‘at risk’ countries

In the wake of the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, the Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine has written to the Airports Authority of India (AAI), urging it to ensure that guidelines for international arrivals are scrupulously followed at the four international airports in the State.

With the revised guidelines of the Union Government coming into effect on December 1, the testing of travellers from ‘at risk’ countries — South Africa, China, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Israel and European countries including the U.K. — will become compulsory on arrival, irrespective of their vaccination status.

The Chennai Airport will test travellers from ‘at risk’ countries starting early Wednesday. Taking into consideration the prolonged time for testing and getting the results, airport authorities have created an exclusive corridor at T4 terminal for screening. A senior airport official said the facility could hold 450 passengers at a time.

T.S. Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health, said in a letter to the Airport Director, international airports in Chennai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore and Madurai, that passengers, who on arrival are found to be symptomatic during screening, should be immediately isolated and taken to a medical facility, in coordination with the local health authorities.

For travellers from the specified countries that are at risk, their swabs should be lifted for post-arrival COVID-19 testing, at the point of arrival. Such travellers will be required to wait for their test results at the arrival airport. If they test negative, they will have to follow home quarantine for seven days. A re-test will be conducted on the eighth day of arrival in India.

If such travellers test positive, their samples should be sent for genomic testing to the INSACOG laboratory network. Such people should be managed at a separate isolation facility and treated as per protocol, including contact tracing. Their contacts should be kept under institutional or home quarantine.

Travellers from countries other that those at risk will be allowed to leave the airport, and should self monitor their health for 14 days after arrival. A sub-section — 5% of the total flight passengers — should undergo post-arrival testing at random.

Since international travellers should not be allowed to leave the airport till they get their RT-PCR test results, the Director of Public Health has asked the authorities to make necessary arrangements for their stay at the airport, while they wait for the results.

Senior AAI officials, health officials and airlines personnel on Tuesday held a joint inspection of international terminals 3 and 4 at the Chennai airport.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 3:22:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/omicron-tamil-nadu-to-test-those-from-at-risk-countries/article37779819.ece

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