Maha issues new COVID-19 norms for travel from 4 states

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(Eds: Adds minister Anil Deshmukhs comments) Mumbai, Nov 23 (PTI) The Maharashtra government on Monday made it mandatory for those seeking to enter the state from Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa to carry RT-PCR negative reports as it moved to stem any further spike in COVID-19 cases following a post-Diwali surge.

For those flying in, the RT-PCR sample collection should have been done within 72 hours of scheduled time of landing at airports in Maharashtra, a government order said.

In case of journey by trains, the collection of RT-PCR samples should have been done within 96 hours before the scheduled arrival in Maharashtra, the notification issued by Maharashtra chief secretary Sanjay Kumar said.

There will be mandatory screening at border check posts for people coming into Maharashtra by road. Passengers without symptoms will be allowed entry, the order said.

Road travellers with symptoms shall have the option of turning back and going to their home to recuperate, it said.

The new travel norms will take effect from November 25, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said.

The four states - Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa - have been reporting high caseload of the coronavirus disease in recent days.

The order stipulated that all domestic passengers travelling from airports in NCR-Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa shall carry RT-PCR negative test reports with them before boarding and show them to teams deputed at the arrival airport in Maharashtra.

'The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is requested to check the report before allowing passengers to board flights,' the government order said.

The state government on Monday came out with revised standard operating procedures (SOPs) on preventive measures to check the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Air travellers not having the RT-PCR test reports shall compulsorily undergo RT-PCR test at the airports concerned at their own cost, the government said in the order.

'The airport shall arrange (for) testing centres and charge passengers directly for testing,' the order said.

Airport operators will allow passengers to go home only after they undertake the test, the government said.

Contact information and address shall be collected by the airport operator from all passengers who undergo tests at the airport to facilitate contact in case the test report comes out positive, it said.

'Passengers whose report comes out positive will be contacted and treated as per the existing protocol,' the order said.

Similarly, passengers travelling to Maharashtra by trains originating or having halt/stop at stations in Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa shall carry with them their respective RT-PCR negative test report before they decide to enter the state, the government said.

'Passengers not having the RT-PCR test negative report shall be screened for symptoms and body temperatures at the alighting railway stations.

'Passengers without symptoms would be allowed to go home,' the government said.

Railway passengers showing symptoms shall be segregated and made to undergo rapid antigen test.

Passengers whose antigen test report will be negative will be allowed to go home, the government said.

It said passengers not testing/found COVID-19 positive shall be sent to COVID-19 care centres and the cost shall be borne by commuters themselves.

On road travel, the government said that collectors of land border districts shall make arrangements to ensure that passengers from NCR-Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa are tested for symptoms, including body temperature.

'The passengers without symptoms will be allowed entry. Passengers with symptoms shall have the option of turning back and going to their home to recuperate,' the government said.

Those showing symptoms shall be segregated and made to undergo antigen test and will be allowed to travel further into Maharashtra if the (antigen test) report is negative, the government said.

In a video message, Home Minister Deshmukh noted that the number of COVID-29 cases have risen in all states of the country post-Diwali.

He said the government took the decision to ensure that there is no further rise in cases in Maharashtra.

Accordingly, those desirous of travelling to Maharashtra by air, railway or road, from Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa, cannot enter Maharashtra without RT-PCR negative test report beginning from November 25, he added.

Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test, considered to be the most accurate COVID-19 test worldwide, requires processing with specialty lab equipment and chemicals.

The RT-PCR test is considered more time consuming and costlier than the rapid tests that look for antigens, or proteins found on the surface of the virus.

Rapid antigen tests are generally considered less accurate, though much faster, than RT-PCR tests. PTI ENM VT RSY RSY