Delhi Airport: Chaos over revised COVID-19 rules for UK returnees
As India-UK flights resumed on Friday, chaos ensued at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport after last-minute revisions to COVID-19 testing and isolation rules were made for passengers arriving from the UK. After landing, passengers learned of the Delhi Government's new rules mandating those returning from the UK to undergo coronavirus testing on arrival and remain under institutional quarantine even if found negative. Here's more.
The revised rules were tweeted by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal reportedly after Air India's flight AI 112 departed from London, directing UK returnees to undergo RT-PCR tests on arrival and remain in 14-day mandatory institutional isolation if found positive. The rules also require passengers to stay in 7-day institutional quarantine followed by an equal period of home isolation even if they are found negative.
Notifying the new rules at 2:30 pm on Twitter, Kejriwal wrote, "To protect Delhiites from exposure to virus from UK, Del govt takes imp decisions (sic)." "All those arriving from UK, who test positive will be isolated in an isolation facility. Negative ones will be taken to a quarantine facility for 7 days followed by 7 days home quarantine," he added.
To protect Delhiites from exposure to virus from UK, Del govt takes imp decisions.— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) January 8, 2021
All those arriving from UK, who test positive will be isolated in an isolation facility. Negative ones will be taken to a quarantine facility for 7 days followed by 7 days home quarantine pic.twitter.com/hYDsaOn8q1
Delhi's new rules reportedly also require passengers to take additional RT-PCR tests even if they were tested before boarding the flight in the UK and spend up to 10 hours inside the airport. A 34-second video on Friday midnight also showed angry passengers, who landed around 10:30am, gathered around a desk at the airport as police and airport officials try to calm them down.
Kejriwal's tweet issuing the new rules came after his appeal on Thursday to the Centre to extend the ban on UK flights until January 31 amid fears over the spread of the new mutant strain failed. While passengers said they were unaware of the new rules, Air India tweeted that pre-flight announcements were made and 20 passengers dropped out due to the revised rules.
#FlyAI :The Govt of NCT of Delhi mandated additional measures in its latest guidelines for passengers arriving from UK. "All travellers coming from United Kingdom (UK) to India from 08.01.21 would be mandatorily subjected to self paid RTPCR tests on arrival at the airport.(1/6) pic.twitter.com/JpE5T3e8qg— Air India (@airindiain) January 8, 2021
As many as 256 passengers were onboard AI 112, the first flight that landed after the ban on India-UK flights was lifted, and two of them tested positive for coronavirus. Genome sequencing is required to confirm if the two coronavirus-positive passengers were infected by the new, highly contagious UK strain. While 222 passengers tested negative, the test results of 32 others were awaited.
To note, Delhi's total number of COVID-19 cases is around 4,200, including over a dozen of the more infectious UK strain. Across the country, there were around 2.25 lakh active cases on Friday morning, of which 82 were of the new UK variant. On Friday, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, declaring a "major incident," said one in 30 people in the UK capital had COVID-19.