‘Ruthless’ quarantine for air returnees as well: Minister

GUWAHATI: The Assam government has said that its policy of “ruthless” quarantine will also apply to the air passengers arriving at the LGBI Airport here  from Monday.

The Centre has decided to resume domestic flights in a calibrated manner across the country from May 25.

Addressing reporters here on Sunday evening, state health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that not less than 2000 passengers from Assam alone are scheduled to arrive out of a total of 4500 to 5000 passengers belonging to the Northeast.

“The passengers will be wearing face masks and shields during the flights even as the Centre has permitted occupation of middle seats. So, while there might not be perfect physical distancing within the flight, since it is a decision taken by the aviation ministry, the state government would abide by it. In such a case, the need for strict quarantine has increased manifold,” Sarma said.

Reportedly, the Airports Authority of India (North Eastern Region) informed that around 32 flights would be operated from the LGBI Airport.

The minister also informed that since there would be about 1000 vacant hotel rooms in Guwahati at present, the passengers who do not get hotel rooms to undergo seven days’ would have to be accommodated for quarantine in other facilities such as guest houses, schools and colleges.

The state government has made it mandatory for seven days institutional and seven days’ home quarantine for returnees. However since Assam has of late ramped up testing facilities, the period of institutional quarantine might get reduced.

“Pilots, crew or anyone directly or indirectly related to the operation of flights and their movement will not be subject to any kind of quarantine. Besides, passengers arriving in the morning and returning by evening will not to be required to undergo any form of quarantine but are liable for criminal charges in case he/she violates the declaration (of returning by that evening) given by them,” Sarma said

“Anyone arriving here for central or state government duty with prior intimation and staying confined to an isolated place will not have to undergo any form of quarantine,” he added

The state government has exempted facility quarantine for returnees whose parents are in hospital or if their immediate relative expires.

“Senior citizens above 75 years, pregnant women, physically challenged and children below five years along with their parents are exempted from facility quarantine. They would have to undergo home quarantine after stamping,” Sarma said.

“Besides foreign returnees who have been quarantined in Delhi for 14 days and persons producing RT-PCR reports (done within 72 hours) confirming negative for COVID would be exempted from institutional quarantine. But they would have to be in home quarantine,” he added.

The minister once again appealed to the people stranded to defer their return dates to the state as the people coming early would face more difficulties upon arrival.

“Senior citizens and pregnant women would get first priority in case of institutional quarantine in hotels,” he added.

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