New Delhi: Amid growing concern over the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, long queues at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport with no social distancing give a harrowing time to flyers as they wait to get their RT-PCR test results. As per the Centre’s new travel guidelines issued earlier last week, passengers coming from ‘at-risk’ nations have to mandatorily undergo PCR test and two per cent of passengers arriving from other countries would have to take the test on a random basis. The passengers will have to wait for the results before leaving the airport or taking a connecting flight, the guidelines said.Also Read - Anthony Fauci Says Early Reports Encouraging About Omicron Variant
These rules were aimed at combatting the spread of the ‘highly transmissible’ Omicron variant, but purported pictures going viral on social media clearly showed complacency among people. The airport authorities can be seen struggling to enforce social distancing as people squeezed shoulder-to-shoulder to get their COVID test results.
Taking to Twitter, people narrated their ordeal and shared pictures of the jam-packed airport. “IGI Airport at 5 AM, seems all flights for the day arrive at the same time. Finding Omicron is sure going to be like finding a needle in a haystack”, one of the flyers tweeted.
(India.com can not verify the authenticity of the picture)
RPG Group chairman Harsh Goenka also shared a similar picture and called Delhi airport a ‘Covid hotspot’. “Scenes yesterday at Delhi airport Covid hotspot”, he tweeted.
Taking note of the situation, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said,”Airport and Civil aviation authorities should handle such situations more intelligently. And it’s not rocket science”. He also tagged Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and asserted, “There are solutions to handle much bigger crowds then airport gatherings. But someone having decision-making power have to take interest in it (sic).”
Commenting on a tweet about the situation at the Delhi airport after the new travel rules kicked in, Congress MP Karti Chidambaram said, “As I feared & warned. Total confusion & crowding in airports.”
Travellers Narrate Their Ordeal
A Twitter user tagged Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia in a tweet and said, “No doubt our govt doing a tremendous job in COVID-19 and taking all possible precautions on international flier testing. But if review Delhi airport is getting chaos day by day. No proper guidance and information, no social distancing (sic).”
“Travellers are facing lots of issues, not having smooth instructions and information to follow in the proper queue from RT-PCR to Emigration and luggage collection… Indian with family planned their travel after 2-3 yrs. So please help them for a smooth journey,” the user wrote on Saturday.
Another Twitter user shared pictures of long queues at the terminal and said on Friday, “Taxes Paid, Airport Charges paid. Huge rush but available resources are not being utilised. For 1 hour of flight approx 3 hours need to be spent in the queue for processes to be completed.”
20 COVID Test Counters For International Flyers
Meanwhile, 20 dedicated counters have been set up for the passengers arriving from “at risk” countries and having pre-booked their mandatory COVID-19 test, after flyers complained of chaos and crowding at the terminal following the implementation of new travel guidelines. “For the convenience of the passengers, DIAL has set up 20 dedicated counters on arrival piers for passengers who have pre-booked their RT-PCR/Rapid PCR test,” Delhi International Airport Limited had said.