The Centre and the Maharashtra authorities appear to be at odds over the dealing with of the scenario arising out of the Omicron risk. Union Well being Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday requested the state to align its order with the usual working procedures (SOPs) issued by the well being ministry, a day after the state authorities revised its tips on quarantine for worldwide passengers amid considerations over the brand new variant of coronavirus.
A senior Maharashtra authorities official stated the problem was being deliberated on the highest stage following the central intervention.
With the Omicron variant spreading quick, the Union well being ministry issued tips for obligatory on-arrival testing for passengers arriving from high-risk nations. Passengers from nations not in danger solely have to self-monitor their well being for 14 days, and solely 2 per cent of such passengers have to endure a paid Covid check on arrival. The rule got here into impact from Wednesday, and over 1,000 passengers every have been examined at Delhi and Bangalore worldwide airports on the primary day. The well being ministry additionally issued clarifications on varied points associated to exams.
Maharashtra, nonetheless, has taken a special place and launched extra stringent guidelines, together with obligatory seven-day institutional quarantine for arrivals from high-risk nations. It additionally reintroduced after 4 months RT-PCR exams for home passengers, regardless of vaccination standing.
In his letter to Maharashtra Further Chief Secretary (well being) Pradeep Vyas, Bhushan has flagged variations between the central and state guidelines. Bhushan stated Maharashtra’s guidelines have been in divergence with the SOPs and tips issued by the well being ministry and urged the state to do a rethink in order to make sure a uniform implementation of tips throughout the nation.
The civic physique of Mumbai issued quarantine and check guidelines on Tuesday night time and determined to implement them from Thursday night time. This created uncertainty within the journey sector with firms witnessing cancellations and requests for re-routing of inbound tickets by way of Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai or different cities. Some selected to re-route return flights to India by way of nations in West Asia by paying excessive fares. West Asian nations are usually not within the high-risk class.
“It’s too early to evaluate the affect of the Maharashtra order usually, however due to the worry of the brand new variant, there was a slowdown of 15-20 per cent in bookings at business stage,” stated a senior govt of a personal airline.
Ajay Prakash, president of the Journey Brokers Federation of India, stated states shouldn’t make knee-jerk reactions and should consider accessible medical knowledge earlier than taking steps. “I see this (the Maharashtra order) because the final nail within the coffin as far the present inbound season is anxious. For the Maharashtra authorities to insist on RT-PCR exams even for double-vaccinated home passengers appears extreme,” he stated.
Maharashtra’s resolution to introduce separate state-specific guidelines is just not new. As states have powers to legislate on well being and catastrophe administration, they’ve been issuing laws on RT-PCR exams for travellers or implementing lockdown-like measures to cope with the pandemic.
At the moment, Karnataka insists on a damaging RT-PCR check on arrivals from Maharashtra and Kerala. Vaccinated passengers from Maharashtra to Karnataka are exempt from the RT-PCR check if travelling for 2 days, whereas these from Kerala are topic to dwelling or institutional quarantine measures.
Previously, whereas states like Odisha, Punjab and Rajasthan required all incoming passengers to have a damaging RT-PCR check, others like Delhi and Maharashtra had this requirement just for passengers from chosen states. Some states insisted on a report not sooner than 48 hours, whereas others accepted studies as much as 72 hours earlier than journey.