The latest coronavirus variant, Omicron is certainly a setback for resuming international travel, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia told the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
Responding to a question during Question Hour, he said, “Omicron’ is certainly a setback. Therefore, several countries have put different yardsticks to deal with it. Our country has categorised 11 nations as “at risk”. The U.K., South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Israel are the “at risk” countries.
To another question by Congress MP Manish Tewari, he said that the World Health Organisation and International Air Transport Association should jointly formulate a common protocol for air travel.
“At present we have air bubble agreement with 31 countries and have a proposal with 10 other nations to start air bubble agreement”, he said in response to a question regarding the current situation of air bubbles during Covid-19.
He also informed that the government has implemented new norms from Wednesday and now the passengers coming from these countries, need to go in for RT-PCR Test at the airport and mandatory seven days home quarantine.
On the eighth day, the passenger will go for RT-PCR test again and only after a negative report, will he or she will be allowed to move freely.
Scindia also said: “We have identified the airports in the country where the passengers from these 11 countries would come and make adequate arrangements for their testing.” He also clarified that a person with both doses of Covid vaccines can also be infected with Omicrone, therefore, the persons having double doses of vaccine cannot be exempted from the RT-PCR test at the airports.
The Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri, while responding to a question on inclusion of the Shirdi into smart city project, said that the process of inclusion has been closed. He also said that the state government was asked to nominate cities from their states but the Maharashtra government did not include the city.
Maharashtra has eight smart city projects, he added. “Smart City may not be the only way the infrastructure of a city may be attended to. We would be very happy to include Shirdi whenever Smart Ciity 2 comes up and Maharashtra government recommends”, Puri said on the modernisation of the religious city Shirdi.
“In 2011 census, it was put under Amrut as a holy city, all steps we take for holy cities are being taken. If additional steps are needed, we are happy to consider them,” he further said.