Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday hinted at an extension of temporary suspension of passenger flights between India and the UK, where a new variant of the coronavirus has been detected. Last week, the ministry had announced the suspension of all flights between the UK and India from December 23 to December 31 over the mutated variant of the virus.
"I foresee a slight extension of temporary suspension of India-UK flights. In the next day or two, we will find out if any additional steps to be taken, or when we can start easing the current temporary suspension," the minister told reporters here.
Countries including Canada, Turkey, Belgium, Italy and Israel have banned flights from the UK as the British government warned that the potent new strain of the virus was "out of control" and imposed a stringent new stay-at-home lockdown from Sunday.
Aviation regulator DGCA had earlier said all airlines must ensure that passengers travelling from the UK do not board their flights from anywhere outside the UK to come to India during the suspension period. The regulator said the aforementioned suspension would not be applicable on cargo flight.
Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday said that those international passengers who have arrived in India during the last 14 days, if symptomatic and tested positive, will be subjected to genome sequencing, in view of the new COVID strain in the United Kingdom.