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Bengal govt suspends all direct flights from UK starting Jan 3

"Further with effect from January 3, 2022 all passengers coming from other non-at-risk countries by international flights to West Bengal, will have to mandatorily undergo a test on arrival at their cost. 

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Kolkata: Amid reports of rising Omicron cases globally as well as within the country, the West Bengal government on Thursday announced the suspension of all direct flights coming from the UK with effect from January 3.

“Flights from the UK, which is an at-risk country as notified by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, will not be allowed in the state and any no-objection certificate which has been issued stand withdrawn,” a state government letter to the ministry of civil aviation, said.

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“Further with effect from January 3, 2022 all passengers coming from other non-at-risk countries by international flights to West Bengal, will have to mandatorily undergo a test on arrival at their cost. 

“The airline will randomly select 10 percent of the passengers for RT-PCR test and the balance 90 percent shall undergo Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) at the arrival airport. Those found positive in the RAT test will have to further undergo RT-PCR tests as may be required by the health authorities,” said the letter, addressed to Ministry of civil aviation secretary Rajiv Bansal.

The at-risk countries, as notified by the Union health ministry, include South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong and Israel.

All international passengers arriving in West Bengal have to mandatorily pre-book the test before boarding to reduce waiting time on arrival, “which the airlines must ensure prior to allowing the boarding”, the state government further said.

Accordingly, the airport authorities may be asked to augment the holding capacity of the arrival lounge on the international side and also increase the number of testing counters so as to reduce the waiting time for the passengers at the airport, it added.

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