All passegers from Bengaluru to be screened at Ranchi airport
All passengers travelling to Ranchi from Bengaluru, including those who have been fully-vaccinated, will be screened for symptoms of Covid-19 upon arrival at the Birsa Munda Airport, officials said on Friday, admitting that the state was taking extra precaution after two cases of infection caused by the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus surfaced in Karnataka.
The director of Birsa Munda Airport in Ranchi, Vinod Sharma, said additional manpower was deployed at the arrival gate of the airport to ensure no passenger enters the city without proper screening for Covid-19 symptoms. “Fully-vaccinated passengers will also be screened, but they will not have to produce a negative RT PCR test report as of now,” he said.
Another official involved in security management at the airport said that even if fully-vaccinated individuals show symptoms of coronavirus infection, they will be isolated from others and tested.
The two Karnataka patients infected by the Omicron variant of coronavirus were fully-vaccinated, the southern state’s health minister has said. This development, airport officials said, indicates that even vaccinated passengers should be screened if not tested for Covid-19.
According to airport officials, at least three flights with passengers from Bengaluru land in Ranchi every day. On average, about 1,500 passengers from Bengaluru, including some international travellers, land in Ranchi every week.
The district administration has also intensified the screening process at Hatia Railway Station to ensure that passengers travelling from Yesvantpur in Karnataka are tested upon arrival, officials said. The Hatia Yesvantpur Express runs two days a week between Ranchi and Bengaluru.
The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus, which first surfaced in South Africa, has already been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Britain, Australia, Israel and some other countries, sparking a global concern.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Dr Randeep Guleria has warned that the Omicron variant has at least 30 mutations, and it may bypass the immunity provided by vaccines in India, hinting that vaccinated individuals too were not safe.
While many states have enforced stricter protocols for interstate travellers and some countries have made Covid tests mandatory even for international travellers who were fully-vaccinated, Jharkhand had not issued any directive regarding testing of vaccinated travellers by the time this report was filed.
However, the state has directed all districts to identify international travellers who have come to Jharkhand in the past 14 days and test them for Covid-19.