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Govt foresees ‘short extension’ of suspension of flights from UK beyond December 31: Civil Aviation Minister

The statement comes after India reported its first six cases for the new strain of the virus.

SNS | New Delhi |

Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said that the government foresees ‘a short extension’ of the suspension of flights from the United Kingdom beyond December 31 due to the fast-spreading new mutant strain of coronavirus found in UK.

Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said, “I foresee a short extension on this temporary suspension. I don’t see the extension to be long or indefinite,”

The statement comes after India reported its first six cases for the new strain of the virus. Of the six people who have tested positive, three are in NIMHANS Bengaluru, two in Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology Hyderabad and one in National Institute of Virology, Pune.

All the patients have been kept in ‘single room isolation’ in these healthcare facilities and their close contacts have been put under quarantine.. The government has said that contact tracing has been started for co-travellers, their families and others.

The government has said that nearly 33,000 passengers have arrived from UK between November 25 and December 23, out of which 114 have tested positive for Covid. Genome sequencing for other specimens is going on and the states in which these passengers arrived contact tracing is being done.

The government on imposed a temporary suspension on flights from UK from December 23 to December 31. The government had also announced measures such as that every passenger arriving from UK will have to undergo the Covid-19 test upon arrival.

UK is one of the 23 countries with which India shares an ‘air bubble’. The country is home to a huge Indian diaspora and several flights operate between them.

India, which currently has the second-highest number of cases after the US, has not made institutional quarantine for international travellers mandatory if they have a Covid-19 negative test result 72 hours before entering the country.

India has reported 16,432 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, its lowest spike in daily cases in six months, according to Ministry of Health.The country’s overall coronavirus caseload now stands at 1,02,24,303 with 2,68,581 active Covid-19 cases