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Mumbai: 745 international passengers quarantined; hotel rooms fall short

Thursday, December 24, 2020, 11:20 Hrs  [IST]

According to TOI, About 1,700 passengers who arrived from the Middle East, Europe and South Africa were segregated at Mumbai airport on Wednesday after which 745 passengers, who are residents of Maharashtra, were sent to hotels for a week-long quarantine. With quarantine norms applying to passengers from the Middle East as well from Tuesday night, long queues were seen at arrivals in terminal 2. "Passengers had to be segregated based on their address. Those residing in Maharashtra had to choose from a list of hotels for the quarantine. All this led to long queues,'' said a source. Many passengers complained they had to check into expensive hotels, said BMC sources.

"Our flight landed around 11.30 pm on December 21 from the UK. After being asked to remain in the flight for an hour, when we disembarked, we were forced to pay INR 32,000 and the cost of the RT-PCR test. Our bill is now INR 40,000 for seven days," said Mohammed, a passenger.

By Wednesday afternoon, 1,688 passengers arrived in the city from Europe, the Middle East and South Africa. Of these, 745 passengers were sent for institutional quarantine, while 602 were allowed to leave for their destinations outside Maharashtra. Two passengers were exempted from institutional quarantine. The BMC is expecting around 2,000 passengers from these countries each day.

The BMC said due to the surge in passengers being sent for institutional quarantine, they were facing a shortage of rooms in budget hotels. "We are getting around 700 passengers each day who have to be sent for institutional quarantine so there is a shortage of budget hotels. More hotels are being empanelled, but we have to make sure they are in the vicinity of the airport. We will add more budget hotels in the next two days," said deputy municipal commissioner Anil Wankhede.

The BMC had issued fresh guidelines for passengers arriving from Europe, the Middle East and South Africa. "Passengers from these countries will have to undergo seven days of institutional quarantine. They will be tested between the 5th and 7th day. They will be allowed to go home if their Rt-PCR test report is negative, but they will be advised to undergo seven days of home quarantine," said Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner (health).

Kakani said passengers who are residents of other states will be allowed to take onward flights or leave the airport and go to their destinations. "Details such as vehicle number and address of the passenger will be taken down and the chief secretary of the state concerned informed. However, there will be compulsory institutional quarantine for passengers who are residents of Maharashtra," he added.

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