Begin COVID test at Port Blair airport for islanders, MP urges admin

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Port Blair, Feb 10 (PTI) Andaman and Nicobar MP Kuldeep Rai Sharma on Wednesday urged the administration to conduct COVID-19 tests at the Port Blair airport instead of asking the islanders to get themselves tested before flying back.

Sharma said that the directive asking people to get tested within 48 hours of boarding a flight to Port Blair would cause immense hardships for the islanders.

Most of the people returning from the mainland had gone there for medical treatment or some important work, and they are financially weak and need to travel long distances by bus or train to major cities such as Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, to take flights for Port Blair, he said.

Because of the RT-PCR test, they have to stay in hotels and lodges for two days until the report comes, adding to their expenses, Sharma added.

Also, if they are found to be positive they would have to cancel the flight tickets at the last moment, causing further losses as tickets are mostly non-refundable, he said.

The Congress MP urged the administration to take note of these issues and begin testing for those returning home at the Port Blair airport.

However, Sharma said the directive of carrying a COVID-negative test report may be in place for tourists coming to the islands from the mainland for the safety of the locals.