West Bengal Suspends All Direct Flights From U.K And Other High-risk Countries Due To Covid Scare

Alarmed over Covid cases doubling in 24 hours in Kolkata, the Bengal government on Thursday suspended all direct flights from the UK and other high-risk countries from January 3, a PTI report said.

According to the report, the state government also announced a mandatory Covid test for all international arrivals from non-at risk countries.

The COVID-19 situation in West Bengal deteriorated further as the state on Thursday registered 2,128 cases, with Kolkata alone accounting for 1,090 of them, the report said.

The positivity rate stood at a disturbing 5.47 per cent – a massive jump from Wednesday’s 2.84 per cent, a government bulletin said, according to the PTI.

State Home Secretary BP Gopalika wrote to the Union Civil Aviation ministry informing it about the decision to suspend flight operations due to the rising number of Omicron cases. West Bengal has so far reported 11 cases of the variant, the report said.

“In view of the rising number of Omicron cases globally as well as within the country, the state government has decided to temporarily and until further orders suspended all direct flights from the United Kingdom to Kolkata from January 3, 2022.

“Flights, which is from 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as notified by MOHFW, Government of India, will not be allowed in the state, and any NOCs which have been issued stand withdrawn,” he wrote.

All passengers from non-at-risk countries coming to West Bengal will have to undergo a test on arrival at their cost mandatorily, Mr Gopalika said.

“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) on arrival at the airport. Those found positive in the RAT test will have to further undergo RT-PCR tests as may be required by the health authorities,” he wrote.

Covid cases in Kolkata are rising since the city is a transit point for those travelling on trains and flights, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.

“Most Omicron cases are being detected among people coming from UK flights. It’s a fact that the Omicron carriers are coming via international flights. The Centre must decide on imposing restrictions on flights from countries where Omicron cases are high,” she had said hours before the state ordered a ban on flights.

“Let us assess the situation first. In the last two years, the business has gone down to zero. We will review the situation at schools and colleges. We will also assess if Omicron is spreading among kids. A decision will only be made after that,” she added, PTI reported.

Countries ‘At-Risk’ – Updated As On 6th Dec

  1. Countries in Europe including The United Kingdom
  2. South Africa
  3. Brazil
  4. Botswana
  5. China
  6. Ghana
  7. Mauritius
  8. New Zealand
  9. Zimbabwe
  10. Singapore
  11. Tanzania
  12. Hong Kong
  13. Israel