125 of the 179 passengers, including children, onboard a chartered flight from Milan – Italy that arrived in Amritsar have tested positive for COVID-19. The flight had made a technical halt at Tbilisi in Georgia.
Health Ministry officials said they tested the passengers on arrival as Italy is one of the high-risk countries for the Omicron variant. Those who tested positive would be sent to institutional quarantine.
Various reports highlighted chaotic visuals at the Amritsar airport; policemen trying to control the crowd with a large number of passengers waiting to leave. It has come to light that the passengers questioned the positive results saying they had tested negative for COVID in Italy.
Health officials have warned that a large number of mild cases could put pressure on the health system. India, as per the health ministry, has around 2,135 Omicron cases and one death linked to the new variant. Daily COVID-19 deaths rose by 325 taking the total to 482,876. Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said the total number of new cases of COVID-19 is expected to breach the 14,000 mark while the positivity is likely to be between 13 and 14%. India’s total infections are at 35.11 million, only second to the United States.
With COVID-19 cases surging in India, the Additional Secretary of Union Health Ministry Arti Ahuja highlighted a considerable decline in COVID testing in the states of Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Mizoram, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, J&K, and Bihar. She said this is a cause of concern.
“With the increased detection of Omicron and a majority of countries seeing multiple surges in cases despite high levels of vaccination, there is a need for continued vigil efforts to prevent any deterioration of the COVID-19 scenario. Keeping in mind the unpredictable and highly transmissible behavior of Omicron and the larger preponderance of asymptomatic cases, ramping up testing in the initial days itself will help to ensure that the infected individual does not spread the virus to others,” she said.