Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday said future decisions on COVID-19 SOPs will be taken in consultation with the Union Health Ministry and the state Task Force, amid a difference between the Centre and the state over guidelines for international travellers in the wake of the new variant of SARS-CoV2. Talking to reporters, Pawar said it takes seven-eight days to know if anyone has been infected with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.
He said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has held a meeting with all district collectors and given instructions.
At the national level, the prime minister is also looking into it, he noted. Some guidelines have been tweakedthe guidelines before the variant came to the fore and the guidelines when the variant was found in other countries," Pawar said.
As per the prevailing conditions, along with consultations with the Task Force, the Union Health Ministry, future decisions are to be taken on that basis, the deputy chief minister said. Pawar said some experts are of the opinion that the Omicron variant of SARS-Cov2 transmits faster, but its severity is not like the one seen in the 'Delta', variant that was behind the deadly second wave between March and May this year. He said to allay fears about the new variant, the Union Health Ministry or the World Health Organisation (WHO) should come up with research that can help understand this phenomenon better.
Maharashtra Chief Secretary Debashish Chakravarty on Thursday said the state government was considering a revision of its air travel guidelines, a day after the Centre wrote to the state saying its order was in divergence with the COVID-19 SoPs and guidelines issued by the Union government. In view of global concerns over the Omicron variant, Maharashtra has mandated seven-day institutional quarantine for travellers arriving in the state from 'at-risk' countries, under the guidelines issued by the State Disaster Management Authority on Tuesday night.
Such passengers will also undergo RT-PCR test on the second, fourth and seventh day of arrival. If found to be COVID-19 positive, the passenger will be shifted to a hospital. In case the test is negative, the passenger will still have to undergo seven-day home quarantine. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday, in a letter addressed to Maharashtra Health and Family Welfare Department's Additional Chief Secretary Pradeep Kumar Vyas, asked the state to align its order with the SOPs issued by the Centre.