Experts want Kumbh pilgrims tested | India News - Times of India


GUWAHATI: Assam bound flights from outside of the northeast may become ‘superspreaders’ of the Covid-19 virus if passengers refuse to undergo tests in their states before boarding in response to state health minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma’s statement last week that tests done in other states would not be accepted on arrival at Assam airports.
After 62 passengers tested Covid positive at Guwahati airport in a single day on Wednesday, sources at the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said many of these positive cases preferred not to get tested before boarding the flights, because they would have to go for another round of tests on arrival in Assam.
A senior government official based at the Guwahati Airport told TOI that a major chunk of Covid positive passengers detected here had boarded flights from Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi, which remain highly vulnerable to the second wave. Considering the number of positive cases detected on arrival in the state, he said there is a high possibility that the virus has spread to more passengers inside the aircraft.
“Many passengers have even asked on social media why they would have to undergo dual tests. If the Assam government won’t accept a Covid negative report issued in another state before a passenger boards a flight, what is the use of undergoing that test? Anyway, they will have to mandatorily go through another test on arrival in airports in Assam,” the AAI official said.
While the 62 passengers turned out Covid positive in the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), health minister Sarma on Thursday expressed concern that the number might increase after the RT-PCR test reports come.
Sarma said last week that Covid neutral certificates from other states would not be accepted and that all air and train passengers would have to undergo Covid tests on arrival in Assam.
Considering the gravity of the situation, he took to Twitter again and appealed, “Request every passenger coming to Assam to check his Covid status before boarding.”
Early in April, air passengers from Mumbai or Bengaluru, disembarking at any airport in Assam, had been ordered to mandatorily carry a negative RT-PCR report, conducted within 72 hours prior to the journey. The order issued by the state health department, came into effect from April 9. But soon after the health minister’s announcement last week, saying such reports won’t be acceptable, many decided to board flights without testing.
The seven-day home quarantine rule in Assam, may bring down the number of arriving passengers. Even passengers arriving at Assam airports from other northeastern states are set to witness a drop, as they need to go for home quarantine in Assam but without mandatory testing.
“Guwahati being the gateway to the northeast, a significant number of people used to travel to the city for a couple days for their work, treatment and go back home. But who will get stuck for seven days even without a virus infection?” asked YY Singh from Imphal.

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