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Covid-19: India to withhold passports of 'high-risk' passengers from UAE

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent)/Dubai
dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com Filed on March 18, 2020 | Last updated on March 19, 2020 at 07.36 am
passport, coronavirus, covid-19, delhi airport, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, quarantine

(alamy.com/ae)

The Indian ministry has announced a step-by-step procedure.

Passports of 'high-risk' passengers identified for quarantine in India will be retained by immigration officials at the airports. All other passengers will have to undergo mandatory home quarantine and violators of the home quarantine will face penal action, said the Indian government on Wednesday.

These steps have been undertaken as part of the mandatory 14-day quarantine of incoming passengers from high-risk countries.

According to the Standard Operating Procedure for Passenger Movement Post Disembarkation document shared by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday, it has been revealed that passports of passengers suspected to be Covid-19 positive will not be handed over to passengers under any circumstances.

"The possibility of stamping the passengers, as done in Maharashtra, with home quarantine stamps would be explored," said the circular.

Earlier today, a spokesperson from the Indian Embassy confirmed that Indian expats flying into India will be tested for coronavirus symptoms and based on the results, the health officials will decide on a case to case basis whether they will be sent to 14-day quarantine at government facilities and hospitals, based on availability, or asked to be self-isolated at homes.

Here are the screening procedures:

STEP 1

Health Screening

The Ministry of Civil Aviation would instruct the airport authorities to stagger the arrival of flights from Covid-19 affected areas so that the flow of passengers is maintained for the screening of passengers.

From the dedicated aerobridges, the passengers will arrive escorted by airline staff to the Airport Health Organisation (APHO) counters for initial thermal screening, where symptomatic passengers would be isolated and moved to designated hospital as per the existing SOPs.

STEP 2

Immigration

After the initial screening, the remaining asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to move to the designated immigration counters with passports and a copy of the SRF (Self-Reporting Form) as per the existing SOP. Airlines staff in the aircraft and at the ground will ensure that the arriving passengers have filled their SRFs properly.

Though the passengers will be directed to the designated immigration counters, in case any passenger presents himself at any other counter, the immigration staff would direct him to the designated counters. After clearance of immigration, the passport of the passengers shall be retained by immigration officials. Passengers in batches of 30 will be handed over to the escort team - comprising a 24x7 five-member team, headed by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and comprising a representative from Delhi International Airport, airlines and Delhi Police.

The passports of these passengers would be handed over by the immigration staff to the team lead (CISF officer). The passports shall not be handed over to the passengers, at any cost.

STEP 3

Luggage Collection

The team, along with the passengers, shall move to the luggage belts to collect the luggage. If there are any delays or missing luggage in the case of any or few passengers, the respective passenger shall stay behind along with a team member and the rest of the team and passengers shall proceed further through the customs.

If there is any delay in the customs clearance, the respective passenger shall stay behind along with a team member, while the rest of the team and passengers shall proceed further.

STEP 4

Control Room

The team along with the passengers shall move to the designated triage area manned by Delhi State Govt. Officials with logistics like laptops, etc. The control room in-charge would perform the functions of supervision and coordination.

There would be a control room at the triage area and five screening counters manned by medical officers and para-medical staff deputed by Delhi government. The escort team would report to the control room in-charge who will assign a counter to the batch.

At the assigned counter, the passports of the entire batch will be handed over by the team lead to the medical officer-in-charge of the counter.

Here the passengers would be screened and those without any risk factors would be sent for home quarantine after providing them with their passports, the home quarantine advisory and collecting a declaration from them, to remain strictly under home quarantine, or else face penal action, as per the rules.

The possibility of stamping the passengers, as done in Maharashtra, with Home Quarantine Stamps, would be explored. These passengers would be linked to the IDSP, surveillance system. Delhi Government would depute Delhi State IDSP team for this purpose.

Protocol for high-risk passengers

The high-risk passengers identified for quarantine at the facilities would be first asked to fill up a declaration opting for paid hotel facility or a government quarantine facility, based on availability, and subsequently would be quarantined as per availability list of quarantine facilities are given by the state government.

The escort team would escort these passengers to the transport provided by the state government and the passengers shall be quarantined as per the laid down guidelines.

dhanusha@khaleejtimes.com

author

Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88


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