The Kerala health department has decided to mandate seven-day home quarantine for all international passengers, said health minister Veena George. It will be followed by an RT-PCR test on the eighth day. If the person turns negative, a seven-day self-monitoring will follow.
According to the minister, the decision to prevent the spread of Omicron was based on the guidelines of the central government. Earlier the seven-day home quarantine was limited only for passengers coming from countries listed as ‘high risk’. They should also come out negative in an RT-PCR test conducted at the airports. Passengers from other countries had to undergo 14 days of self-monitoring during which they should limit their mingling with the public.
However, it was later found that more Omicron cases were detected among passengers from other countries when compared to passengers from high-risk countries. Of the 280 Omicron cases detected in the state, 186 came from other countries compared to 64 from high-risk countries. The lapses in following the quarantine and self-monitoring protocols were highlighted in the Covid review meetings. The new decision to strengthen the home quarantine was taken to prevent the spread of Omicron in the local population. Already, there are 30 cases reported among the local population due to contact with Omicron infected persons.
The state has started screening international passengers based on the Centre’s guidelines from November 30. People coming from high-risk countries are tested on arrival. The central guidelines were subject to two per cent of passengers coming from other countries on a random basis. As the number of people tested positive for Omicron increased among travellers from other countries, the state decided to conduct Covid test on 20 per cent of the passengers. Those tested positive for Covid have to undergo institutional quarantine and their samples are sent for genetic testing to confirm the presence of Omicron. They get treatment as per the standard treatment protocol and get discharged based on the directions of the treating doctor.
The state also strengthened the monitoring of people in home quarantine after it was found that they developed Covid symptoms in a couple of days in quarantine.