Saturday, June 13, 2020

Govt relaxes home quarantine rule for crew carrying Covid-19 patient

The central government has relaxed a rule that made it mandatory for airline crew to undergo home quarantine for 14 days if they had a Covid-19 positive case in the aircraft.

The government has left it to airlines to decide the steps to be followed in such cases. The dilution was done by Ministry of Health after airlines raised concerns over shortage of crew as Covid-19 cases among air passengers increased.
“Significant number of crew was becoming non-operational due to the quarantine rules,” Ministry of Civil Aviation wrote to the Ministry of Health on June 3.

The airlines will now conduct their own risk assessments of the crew.

“It has been noted that airline crew are wearing full PPE, including N95 mask during the flight.
Further, the crew is also not serving any food or snacks to passengers. The passengers also undergo mandatory screening and have to wear mask throughout the flight. Hence, possible risk of infection of crew from passenger is minimal,” said Alok Saxena, joint secretary at the health ministry.

Industry sources said Air India and private airlines lobby group Federation of Indian Airlines had approached the Ministry of Civil Aviation seeking a relaxation of the rule. “On confirmation that the passenger has tested positive, the crew will be directed for consultation at government designated hospitals and continue to be under home isolation for 14 days and observed for symptoms,” the earlier direction said.
Airline executives said the rule hindered operations as Covid-19 positive cases were detected on multiple flights of the same airline. “There was a day when six positive cases were found in six different flights of IndiGo. While it’s just six passengers, 36 crew members were quarantined for 14 days. This created massive operational problems,” said an airline executive.
13/06/20 Arindam Majumder/Business Standard
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