Govt orders monitoring of international travelers

Lack of clarity on transmissibility, severity of variant: NCDC
Govt orders monitoring of international travelers
Health workers check temperature of passengers at Srinagar airport. File/ANI

Srinagar: In wake of the threat of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 being reported from several countries, the government Monday issued detailed guidelines for international arrivals as mandated by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).

The communication by Additional Chief Secretary J&K, Health and Medical Education (H&ME) Vivek Bhardwaj to Directors of Health in Kashmir and Jammu divisions both details management of travelers, incoming and outgoing.

The fresh set of Standard Operating Protocols (SoPs) prepared on the latest “risk assessment and situation analysis” by MoHFW would come into effect from December 1.

The guidelines are applicable for international travel and require those planning to travel to upload a self-declaration form, a negative COVID-19 test report, and a declaration for the authenticity of the information provided.

“A person found submitting tampered or incomplete information and reports “will be liable for a criminal prosecution,” the guidelines state.

A senior official of the Department of Health said that a facility was being designated as an isolation space for suspected cases among travellers with international travel history.

As per the MoHFW, passengers traveling from countries specified in the guidelines would need to wait for their negative test reports before they are allowed to leave the airport.

These “at-risk” countries are all countries of Europe (excluding the UK), South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel.

Travelers arriving from these countries have been directed to home quarantine for seven days post their arrival even if their test reports are negative.

Meanwhile, National Center for Disease Control (NCDC), New Delhi said that preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of re-infection with Omicron (B.1.1.529) compared to other variants of concern.

It said that there was a lack of clarity at the moment about the transmissibility and severity of the disease caused by this variant and details were emerging.

The NCDC advised that all positive samples of international travellers should be sent to the designated Consortium of Genomic Sequencing labs.

It also stressed the need to monitor and survey all travelers with international travel history without specifying the countries which need to be monitored.

Regarding the treatment for any suspected case, the NCDC said that corticosteroids and IL6 Receptor Blockers would “still be effective for managing patients with severe COVID-19”.

In addition, other treatments would be assessed to see if they were still as effective given the changes to parts of the virus in the Omicron variant.

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