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Jharkhand mulls scrapping RTPCR tests for vaccinated, asymptomatic travellers

Disaster Management Department yet to issue official notification regarding changes in mandatory travel protocol
Swab being collected for RT-PCR test.
Swab being collected for RT-PCR test.

Our Correspondent   |   Ranchi   |   Published 02.09.21, 04:19 PM

The state health department is thinking of considering scrapping mandatory RTPCR tests for fully-vaccinated interstate air travellers and asymptomatic passengers given that Covid cases are on the decline in Jharkhand. a letter from the health department stated.

In a letter to the Disaster Management Division, additional chief secretary (health) Arun Kumar Singh has cited an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) advisory that recommends mandatory RTPCR tests for healthy individuals undertaking interstate travel be completely removed to reduce the load on Covid-19 laboratories.

“To ease the pressure of testing at Ranchi Airport, it is proposed to take a decision that those who have been vaccinated with both doses of Covid-19 vaccine and 15 days have lapsed since the administration of the second dose of the vaccine and are in possession of the final vaccination certificate issued through the Co-Win portal be exempted from any additional tests for Covid-19 on their entry into the state,” the letter read.

Besides, passengers who have either been partially vaccinated or not vaccinated at all may undergo Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) at the airport if they fail thermal scanning even if they do not suffer from any visible symptoms of the viral infection, the letter further stated.

However, as per the letter, it is proposed that those passengers who have existing symptoms of the disease and also fail thermal scanning shall mandatorily undergo RTPCR test upon their arrival at Ranchi airport.

At present, it is compulsory for interstate passengers to carry a negative report of an RTPCR test conducted not more than 72 hours prior to the time of departure from other states to Ranchi. Airport officials on Thursday said that passengers failing to produce a negative RTPCR test were made to undergo Covid tests upon their arrival at Ranchi airport.

“Fully-vaccinated passengers with no symptoms of Covid-19 need not produce negative RTPCR test reports upon their arrival in Ranchi. But unvaccinated and partially-vaccinated passengers have to carry a negative RTPCR test report or undergo tests here after landing,” said the director of Birsa Munda Airport, Vinod Sharma. 

The letter from the additional chief secretary (health), written in the wake of a communique from the Ministry of Civil Aviation, mentioned that the matter of changing the current mandates for air travellers needed “expeditious consideration.”

However, a highly-placed official from the Department of Home, Jail and Disaster Management said that the department was yet to issue any official notification regarding any changes on the protocol for interstate travellers. “A decision will be taken after thoroughly studying the current situation and the risks involved in providing any relaxation,” he said, requesting not to be named.

Covid cases in Jharkhand have dropped significantly in the past one month or so. As per government data, there were hardly 137 active cases of Covid-19 in the state on Thursday morning and the positivity rate in the state has been lower than 0.1 per cent throughout the month of August.

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