In view of the threat of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus, the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Public health and Preventive medicine has written to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) that passengers arriving at the four international airports in the state must follow the guidelines on vaccines provided by the department.
Irrespective of their vaccination status, Tamil Nadu has made COVID-19 tests compulsory for passengers arriving from at-risk countries — including South Africa, Botswana, China, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Bangladesh, Brazil, Singapore, Israel, and European Union countries, including the UK. At the Chennai International Airport, the T4 terminal has been converted into an exclusive area for the testing of passengers arriving from these countries. The passengers would have to stay at the airport until they receive their results. According to sources in the Airport Authority of India (AAI), 450 passengers could be accommodated in this enclosure for testing.
The Tamil Nadu Public Health Department in a letter issued to the directors of the Chennai, Trichy, Coimbatore, and Madurai airports, has directed that symptomatic passengers must be isolated and taken to a medical facility in coordination with local authorities. This would be done in order to have a record of those passengers who have symptoms of COVID-19.
The passengers arriving from the at-risk countries and who test negative, will have to remain in home quarantine for a week, and will have to undergo a retest on the eighth day.
In the letter, the Directorate of Public Health also mentioned that the passengers who arrive from countries other than at-risk countries will be allowed to leave the airport and will have to self-monitor their health for 14 days.
However, a section of passengers, irrespective of the country which they are travelling from, will be subjected to random testing.
Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian told IANS, "The Directorate of Public Health has already written to the directors of all the four international airports in the state regarding testing of passengers from at-risk countries and it has commenced.
"We have to be extra cautious regarding the spread of the new variant and hence the precautions. Door-to-door vaccination is being carried out effectively in the state and we are expecting to inoculate the whole population with the first dose of the jab in a short time. ace