India may extend UK flight ban for a short period, says Hardeep Singh Puri

Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri | Photo: PTI
India is likely to extend the ban on flights from the UK for a short duration, following detection of six cases of the new Covid-19 strain, in the country.


“I foresee a slight extension of the temporary suspension,” said Hardeep Singh Puri, civil aviation minister, on Tuesday. The government announced a week-long suspension of flights between the UK and India, till December 31.


This was followed by tracking and testing of over 33,000 persons who had arrived from the UK between November 25 and December 23, as a part of a preventive strategy to contain the virus. Close to 11 passengers tested positive for Covid-19, with their samples sent to laboratories for genome sequencing. All the people with new variant of Covid-19 have been kept under single-room isolation in designated health facilities, while their close contacts have been put under quarantine.


“Our systems are in place. We have managed contact-tracing and are carrying out testing. We will be ready to take further steps if required,” he added. Indian and British airlines operate over 60 weekly flights between the two countries.  International air travel to/from India is being regulated under air travel bubbles and, so far, India has agreements with 24 countries in place.


The minister expressed hope that the normal international air travel would resume in the first half of 2021, as easy availability of the vaccine could give confidence to governments to open borders and ease restrictions.

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