RT-PCR testing on arrival, separate isolation of those testing positive for the new variant of coronavirus, institutional quarantine for co-passengers of those testing positive: These are some of the salient requirements mentioned in the standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the government of India today for travelers arriving from the UK. The SOP were published in the wake of growing fears around the new mutant variant of the coronavirus detected recently in that country.
Releasing the SOP, the ministry of health and family welfare said this new variant of the virus is estimated by the European Center for Disease Control (ECDC) to be more transmissible and affecting younger population.
“This variant is defined by a set of 17 changes or mutations. One of the most significant…changes…may result in the virus becoming more infectious and spreading more easily between people,” the ministry statement said.
In this context, the government has included in the SOP’s purview all International passengers who have travelled from or transited through UK in the past four weeks (from November 25 to December 23).
To begin with, all such travelers are required to declare their travel history of the past 14 days and must fill up the self declaration form. They would be subjected to RT-PCR test on arrival. In case of a positive sample, it is recommended that spike gene-based RT-PCR test also be performed on them.
If they test positive for the older variant of coronavirus, the ongoing treatment protocol may be followed, including home isolation or treatment at facility level, depending on the severity of the case.