The Tamil Nadu health department has written a letter to the Union health ministry requesting mandatory Covid-19 tests for all the international travellers arriving at the four airports in the state — Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, and Tiruchi.
After the outbreak of the Omicron variant of Covid in various countries, the Union health department had said that tests for passengers arriving from ‘at-risk’ countries were mandatory. For those coming from the ‘not- at- risk countries, only two per cent random tests were to be conducted.
However, after the passengers from not-at-risk countries were also tested Omicron positive, the state health department in a high-level meeting of doctors and officials decided that tests be conducted on all international passengers arriving in the state.
The Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive medicine has requested the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to issue guidelines regarding the mandatory tests for all international passengers and a seven-day compulsory quarantine for all passengers who test Covid-19 negative and a re-test on the eighth-day of arrival.
The health department has requested the Union health ministry for mandatory Covid-19 tests after a person, who had arrived at Chennai international airport from Nigeria — a not-at-risk country, had tested positive for Omicron variant. There were also travellers reported from not-at-risk countries like Turkey, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, and Dubai, found to be carrying the S- gene droplets when their samples were tested and this is considered as a characteristic feature of the Omicron variant.
The state health department also found that of the 28 international passengers who had S- gene droplets in their test reports, only four were from countries at-risk while the rest 24 were from countries not-at-risk.
Tamil Nadu Health Minister, Ma Subramanian while speaking to IANS said, “We don’t want to take any risks and hence this letter to the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry to conduct mandatory tests for all the passengers coming into the country from international destinations. Hence, we want no passenger to go out in the society without undergoing any tests.”