Manipur to limit daily flight service from June 18-28 as Covid-19 cases surge

The government's decision to reduce the number of daily flight service from five to one was taken in an effort to clear huge backlog of sample testing results for Coronavirus of the thousands of returnees to the state.

In view of the need to clear the huge backlog of samples pending results for Covid-19 following the heavy inflow of returnees to the state amid the lockdown, the Manipur government in consultation with the Union Civial Aviation Ministry on Monday decided to permit the operation of only one flight from Delhi to Imphal daily from June 18 to June 28, official sources said.

The government’s decision to permit only one flight from Delhi daily for the 10-day period came after the Civil Aviation Ministry instructed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to allow the operation of one flight from Delhi to Imphal daily instead of five from June 18 to 28, following a written request from the state chief secretary for suspension of all flight operations to the state from June 18 to 28.

The request for suspension of flights for 10 days was made in an effort to clear the pending backlog of testing and congestion in quarantine centres, state Chief Secretary J Suresh Babu stated in a release issued on Monday.

When queried, SS Raju, DGM, AAI Imphal told the Imphal Free Pressthat they had “received a letter requesting closure of the airport but it is the ministry that will decide whether the request should materialise.”

However, to sustain the connectivity, the Civil Aviation Ministry had advised the state government to operate at least one flight daily. At present, five flights are being operated daily since the air service resumed in the state from May 25 to bring back people stranded in various parts of the country to the state.

The chief secretary stated that in an effort to prevent community spread of Covid-19 in the state, the state government has been following strict quarantine protocol for all returnees to the state. However, owing to the heavy inflow of returnees, there is delay in testing of the thousands of them. There is a huge backlog of 15,000 samples pending results, he said.

Babu also stated that RT-PCR test is mandatory for all returnees to the state who are kept in either institutional or community quarantine centres on their arrival. Only those who are tested negative for the novel Coronavirus are permitted home quarantine, he added.

First Published:June 15, 2020, 6:44 p.m.