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New Covid variant: Delhi airport tightens check

ANI/New Delhi
Filed on February 22, 2021
A security personnel checks the documents of a passenger standing behind a shield at the Indira Gandhi International airport. Photo: AFP

Testing process increased 10-fold to detect new variant.

As the Union Health Ministry announced the stringent approach to detect new Covid-19 variant and made it mandatory for identified high-risk countries, United Kingdom (UK), Middle East, and Europe, the testing labs at Indira Gandhi International Airport have a monumental task in hand.

The testing process has suddenly increased about 10-fold. Earlier about 500-700 international passengers were being tested per day, the lab is now staring at 7,000 plus numbers.

“Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in consultation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation reviewed the situation with regards to the point of entry actions required to minimize the risk of importation of mutant strains of SARS-CoV-2. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) shall be valid w.e.f. from February 22,” MoHFW Guidelines said.

While the lab infrastructure is equipped to even test above 15,000 samples per day, the operations team comprising data entry operators and sample collection technicians had to be increased 10 folds to handle the large inflow of passengers from the UK, Europe, and the Middle East.

“A massive recruitment drive was launched immediately after the SOP was announced and over 200 staff was recruited overnight and trained over the next two days,” Genestrings lab said.

As per record reported at the airport’s peak hours, it was identified that between 3 am to 5 am, there will be roughly 1,200 passengers an hour who will undergo mandatory RT-PCR testing.

“It is a very brave and timely decision taken by the government to control a new wave of Covid-19 cases in the country. We are fully prepared and will ensure a smooth experience for all passengers who will be quite anxious,” said Dr Gauri Agarwal, Director of Genestrings Diagnostic labs.

Genestrings lab is the only lab at Indira Gandhi International Airport that was the first lab in the country to set up an arrival testing facility in September 2020.





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