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Goa wants COVID-19 testing of air passengers, virus-free certificates

Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said on Saturday that he had requested the Civil Aviation Ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research to allow the state government to conduct antibody testing of passengers after they land.

SNS | New Delhi |

As the Union Aviation Ministry announced the operation of domestic flights from May 25, various states have come up with their own set of demands for the passengers.

Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said on Saturday that he had requested the Civil Aviation Ministry and Indian Council of Medical Research to allow the state government to conduct antibody testing of passengers after they land.
The minister also said that air passengers arriving in Goa should be asked to carry a “COVID-19 negative certificate”.

The state, which saw a fresh wave of coronavirus cases this month, is gearing up for the resumption of domestic air traffic from May 25 with 15 flights from Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Mysore and other places scheduled to arrive.

“In the interest of our state, I have requested @ICMRDELHI and Ministry of Civil Aviation to permit us to conduct antibody testing of the passengers and the passengers to be issued a COVID negative certificate to enter the state via domestic flights,” he tweeted.

“Such testing will help us identify asymptomatic patients…to avoid community transmission,” he added.

“It is very important to ensure that the passengers entering Goa by air are asked to carry a COVID-19 negative certificate,” the minister said in a statement later. Every state government has been allowed to draft its own Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for dealing with passengers arriving from outside, he said.

“I have discussed and taken this up with the Chief Minister to ensure the safety of the people of Goa. We shall also be relying on a COVID-19 negative certificate from a recognized laboratory for people boarding the flight from their respective state,” the minister said.

Goa has 38 active coronavirus cases while 16 patients have recovered. New cases were detected after the state was briefly declared as a green zone with earlier patients recovering.

Maharashtra which has reported the maximum number of COVID-19 cases has been reluctant to let domestic flight operations to start.

The state government on Saturday said that it hasn’t updated its May 19 lockdown order that says only special flights would be allowed, which suggests that it is reluctant to let people from outside enter the state amid lockdown.

Earlier on May 22, Tamil Nadu government had asked the Centre to not restart flights in the state until May 31 due to the sudden rise in the Coronavirus cases. Due to the rising COVID-19 cases in the state capital Chennai, the state government has asked the the Ministry of Civil Aviation to defer the move.

Union Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday said he does not understand the need to quarantine domestic air passengers once flight operations start from Monday if they have downloaded the Government’s contract-tracing app Aarogya Setu and the status on it shows “Green”.