An Air India flight from UK is expected to land in Delhi shortly with 246 passengers on board amid concerns about a mutant fast-spreading strain of the coronavirus that emerged in Britain.
Flights from UK were to resume today after the government suspended services between Indian and UK on December 23 over the new and more contagious strain of the virus.
Flights from India to UK restarted on Wednesday even as the number of people who have tested positive for the new UK variant has climbed to 73.
According to the government, 30 flights will operate every week – 15 each by Indian and UK carriers. This will stand till 23 January, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri has said.
The Delhi airport has advised passengers to keep a gap of at least 10 hours between their arrival from UK and the connecting flight to their cities.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday urged the Centre to extend the flights ban till January 31 because of the “extremely serious” COVID situation in the UK.
“The Centre has decided to lift the ban and start UK flights. In view of the extremely serious situation in UK, I would urge central government to extend the ban till January 31,” Mr Kejriwal tweeted.
“With great difficulty, people have brought COVID situation in control. UK’s COVID situation is very serious. Now, why lift ban and expose our people to risk?” the chief minister said.
In Delhi, 13 people have tested positive for the new coronavirus variant.
The Civil Aviation Minister had tweeted that further frequency of flights would be determined after review.
All passengers from the UK arriving between January 8 and January 30 will be subjected to self-paid COVID-19 tests on arrival. Passengers are also required to carry COVID-19 negative reports from a test done 72 hours before their journey and quarantine for 14 days even if they test negative on arrival, according to the government’s new SOP.