India suspends UK flights to prevent the spread of new Covid-19 strain

Topics Coronavirus | UK | Coronavirus Tests

Representational image.
India has suspended all flights from the UK from Tuesday midnight (December 22) till December 31 to prevent the new aggressive strain of the novel coronavirus from entering the country. With the travel ban, India joins 30 other countries in Europe, Asia, and South America, which have restricted travel from the island nation.

The decision to suspend flights was taken, following recommendations from the health ministry’s joint working group. It will impact over 80 flights in this 10-day period.

British Airways operates  29 flights per week, followed by Air India flying 23 weekly services. Virgin Atlantic and Vistara offer 8 and 5 flights, respectively, per week.  Delhi and Mumbai airports handle nearly 45 per cent of India-UK flights.

Passengers arriving in Mumbai from Europe and West Asia will also be subject to institutional quarantine. Passengers in transit from the UK due to arrive before Tuesday midnight will have to undergo a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test upon arrival. Such passengers from UK will have to undergo seven day institutional quarantine in Mumbai.

“India has been seeing sustained decline in the number of Covid-19 cases for over two and a half months now, accompanied by a decline in the number of deaths. In this scenario, the interjection of SARS-CoV2 variant virus through passengers with air travel history could pose critical risks for pandemic management in the country,” stated Health and Family Welfare Secretary Rajesh Bhushan in his letter to Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola.
Following central orders, states, too, have intensified vigil to curb the spread of the contagion. Maharashtra announced a 15-day night curfew in Mumbai and stricter quarantine measures for passengers arriving from foreign shores.

The Karnataka government has asked airports in Bangalore and Mangalore to provide details of all passengers who arrived from the UK from December 7.

“We are aware of the Indian government’s announcement that due to Covid-19 restrictions, flights originating from the UK will be temporarily suspended from December 22 until December 31. Our teams are in the process of reviewing our flying programme and will inform customers if their travel plans are affected. If we cancel a customer’s flight, we’ll be in touch and they will have the option to rebook on a new date and destination, with a name(s) change, all the way until December 31, 2022, or request a refund,” said Virgin Atlantic in a statement.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel