The demand came in the backdrop of passengers from ‘not-at-risk’ countries also testing positive for the Omicron variant in Tamil Nadu.

A group of people wearing masks carrying luggage in Chennai amid the coronavirus pandemicImage for representation: PTI
news Omicron Sunday, December 19, 2021 - 15:29
Written by  IANS

The Tamil Nadu Health Department has written a letter to the Union Health Ministry requesting mandatory COVID-19 tests for all the international travellers arriving at the four airports in the state — Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, and Tiruchi. After the outbreak of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in various countries, the Union Health Department had said that tests for passengers arriving from 'at-risk' countries were mandatory. For those coming from the 'not-at-risk’ countries, only two percent random tests were to be conducted.

However, pointing out that passengers from not-at-risk countries have also tested positive for the Omicron variant, the state Health Department in a high-level meeting of doctors and officials said that tests should be conducted on all international passengers arriving in the state.

The Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive medicine has requested the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to issue guidelines regarding the mandatory tests for all international passengers and a seven-day compulsory quarantine for all passengers who test COVID-19 negative and a re-test on the eighth-day of arrival.

The Health Department has requested the Union Health Ministry for mandatory COVID-19 tests after a person, who had arrived at the Chennai international airport from Nigeria — a not-at-risk country, had tested positive for the Omicron variant. There were also travellers reported from not-at-risk countries like Turkey, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, and Dubai, found to be carrying the S-gene droplets when their samples were tested and this is considered as a characteristic feature of the Omicron variant.

The state Health Department also found that of the 28 international passengers who had S- gene droplets in their test reports, only four were from countries at-risk while the remaining 24 were from countries not-at-risk. Tamil Nadu Health Minister, Ma Subramanian while speaking to IANS said, "We don't want to take any risks and hence this letter to the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry to conduct mandatory tests for all the passengers coming into the country from international destinations. Hence, we want no passenger to go out in the society without undergoing any tests."