Vikash Sharma

The detection of Omicron, a new variant of Covid-19, in several countries has now prompted the Centre to issue revised guidelines which requires passengers coming to India from ‘at-risk’ nations to undergo Covid-19 tests at the airport mandatorily.

These revised guidelines have come into effect from December 1. Like several states in India, Odisha too has stepped up surveillance activities as 380 persons have reportedly returned to the State from destinations which have been tagged as ‘at risk nations’ by the Centre.

While 228 persons returned to Odisha by November 28, 156 persons arrived in the State on November 29, the Health Department said.

Director, Public Health, Niranjan Mishra, on Thursday said that the list of foreign returnees has already been submitted to the officials of concerned district administrations in the State.

“So far, the Odisha government has received data of returnees of two days. As per the Centre’s directive, all the returnees are being tested at the International airports. As per the protocol, they are allowed to leave the airport only after they test negative for Covid-19. Similarly, all of them have to stay in mandatory home isolation for 7-days and undergo Covid test on the eighth day,” said Mishra.

As per the guidelines issued by the Centre, all the foreign returnees need to board flights with the negative RT-PCR report and they have to undergo another RT-PCR test at the airports upon their arrival. The returnees will have to submit a self-declaration form regarding their travel history.

Director Health Services, Bijay Mohapatra said, “The new variant has been tagged as ‘variant of concern.’ WHO and other international experts say that more study needs to be conducted about this variant. Till now it is ascertained that their severity is less and it is affecting the young population. Experts groups are advising for intensified vaccination drive which will certainly act as a protection.” Mohapatra further said that the use of masks and all Covid appropriate behaviour should be followed strictly.