COVID-19: West Bengal suspends flights from UK to Kolkata from January 3 to prevent Omicron spread

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]: In order to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the West Bengal government on Thursday announced that it has suspended all the flights coming to Kolkata airport from the United Kingdoms from January 3 onwards till further notice.
“In view of the rising number of Omicron cases globally as well within the country, the State Government has decided to temporarily and until further orders suspend all direct flights from the United Kingdom to Kolkata with effect from January 3, 2022. Flights, which is an at-risk country as notified by MOHFW, Government of India, will not be allowed in the State and any NOCs which have been issued stand withdrawn,” read the West Bengal government’s letter to the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation. “Further, with effect from January 3, 2022, all passengers coming from other non at-risk countries by international flights to West Bengal will have to mandatorily undergo a test on arrival at their cost. The airlines will randomly select 10 per cent of the passengers for the RT-PCR test and the balance 90 per cent shall undergo Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) at the arrival airport. Those found positive in the RAT test will have to further undergo RT-PCR tests as may be required by the health authorities,” the letter added.
West Bengal government said that all passengers have to mandatorily pre-book the test before boarding to reduce waiting time on arrival, which the airlines must ensure prior to allowing the boarding. Accordingly, the airport authorities may be asked to augment the holding capacity of the arrival lounge on the international side and also increase the number of testing counters so as to reduce the waiting time for the passengers at the airport.
The state government said that the airlines may be requested to evenly space out the flight arrivals in Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata in consultation with the Airport Director and the state nodal officer so as to reduce waiting time.
West Bengal reported five more cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus on Tuesday taking the total number of patients infected by the new variant in the state to 11.
The state government’s decision of curbing flights from the UK came a day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a review meeting on Wednesday over the COVID situation in the state.
The administrative meeting took place at Sagar in the South 24 Parganas district.
Speaking at the meeting, the Chief Minister said, “COVID cases are rising across the state. There are omicron infections. A review of the situation is required. Passengers coming from foreign countries are spreading COVID. A decision needs to be taken on the international flights coming to Kolkata.”
Meanwhile, the tally of Omicron COVID-19 variant cases in the country has gone up to 961 with maximum cases reported from Delhi (263) and Maharashtra (252).

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