Friday, April 02, 2021

Testing times at Gujarat airports as flyers fume over RT-PCR

Rajkot/Surat/Ahmedabad: Chaos and frayed tempers marked the first day of mandatory RT-PCR tests for people travelling to the state on Thursday as confusion prevailed at airports in Rajkot and Surat and passengers resisting testing. In wake of spiralling Covid-19 cases across Gujarat, the state government had last week announced that RT-PCR not older than 72 hours will be made mandatory effective April1.

Chaotic scenes were witnessed at Surat airport for two hours when the only international flight carrying 168 passengers from Sharjah landed around midnight.

Airport officials said due to space crunch and mandatory testing resulted in the chaos. Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) has outsourced testing to a private laboratory and only two staff members were carrying out testing, leading to long queues. “In Dubai, they did free testing at the airport and completed the process in 15 minutes, but here they charged Rs 800 and took a long time,” said Sarfaraz Patel, a businessman.

There were anxious moments at Rajkot airport too when 20 passengers who arrived from Delhi refused to take the RT-PCR test by paying fees. Dr Lalit Vaja, municipal health official, said, “The passengers said they can’t afford to pay for tests, so we did it free. But now we have made it clear to both railway and airport authorities that no one will be allowed entry into the city without RT-PCR which will be payable.”

There was confusion as railway officials and airport authorities put onus of testing on Rajkot Municipal Corporation. Following government notification, check points to verify reports have been set up along state borders, airports, railway stations as well as bus-stops.

Situation at Ahmedabad’s Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport was relatively better as most passengers had their RT-PCR reports handy. “Some passengers showed reluctance in getting tested. But after some convincing, they were made to take the test and allowed to leave the airport after they gave their samples,” said airport sources.

02/04/21 Times of India

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