Surveillance strengthened at Hyderabad Airport for Omicron

Hyderabad: Health authorities in Telangana have strengthened surveillance at Hyderabad Airport in view of Omicron, the new variant of Covid-19 reported in few countries.

All passengers coming from 12 ‘at-risk’ countries from Tuesday night will be screened by conducting RT-PCR tests.

The Centre has designated 12 countries as ‘at-risk’ from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India. They are European countries including the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Bostwana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.

A total of 10 teams have been deployed at Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here for screening the passengers arriving from these countries.

Director of Public Health Dr. G. Srinivasa Rao told reporters that the passengers will have to wait at the Airport till they receive the results.

As per the guidelines issued by the Centre, if the traveller is tested negative, they have to be home quarantined for seven days. They will be re-tested on the eighth day and if found negative, they will have to further self-monitor themselves for the next 7 days.

Those who test positive will be sent by special ambulances to Telangana Institute of Medical Science (TIMS), which has been designated as the government facility for isolating all such cases.

Two floors at TIMS building in Gachibowli have been kept for isolating the passengers, who test positive for Covid.

Their samples will be sent for genome sequencing and the results can be received in three days.

The director of public health said on Monday, 41 passengers arrived from at-risk countries. While 22 passengers arrived from Europe, 17 came from the United Kingdom and two from Singapore. No one was found positive.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has stated that Rapid Antigen Test and RT-PCR both can detect the new variant.

The official clarified that the new variant has not been detected yet in Telangana or in the country. He appealed to people not to believe the rumours and said whenever a case of this variant is detected, the government will inform the people through the media.

Srinivasa Rao said people should not panic over the new variant but follow Covid appropriate behaviour by wearing masks, washing hands and maintaining social distance.

He said the government has constituted a Cabinet sub-committee headed by health minister T. Harish Rao to effectively counter the situation that may arise due to Omicron and also to expedite Covid vaccination.

He said the health minister has already requested the central government to reduce the time gap between two doses of Covishield.