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India extends UK flight ban after more cases of new Covid-19 strain emerge

The Indian government today extended the suspension of flights to and from the United Kingdom till January 7 after 20 people who returned to India from Britain have been tested positive for the new coronavirus strain till now.

"Decision has been taken to extend the temporary suspension of flights to and from the UK till 7 January 2021. Thereafter strictly regulated resumption will take place for which details will be announced shortly," tweeted civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

India had on December 23 banned UK flights till December 31.

Earlier in the day, the Indian Health Ministry had recommended to the Ministry of Civil Aviation the extension of the temporary suspension of flights originating from the United Kingdom into India to be further extended till January 7, 2021.

This has been recommended based on the inputs received from the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) headed by the Director General of Health Services (DGHS) and the National Task Force jointly headed by DG, ICMR and Member (Health), NITI Aayog.

It has also been suggested to the Ministry of Civil Aviation that after January 7, strictly regulated resumption of limited number of flights originating from the UK into India may be considered. The specifics of such a mechanism may be worked out by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The Union Health Secretary has written to all the states to keep a strict vigil on all events that could be potential "super spreader" events, and to curb crowding in the wake of the New Year celebrations and various events associated with it as well as the on-going winter season.

The recent advice and guidance to the States by the Home Ministry has been reiterated by the Health Ministry. The Ministry of Home Affairs has mandated that States/UTs based on their assessment of the situation, may impose local restrictions with a view to contain the spread of Covid-19, such as night curfew. The Home Ministry has also stipulated that there shall be no restriction on interstate and intra-state movement of persons and goods. Drawing attention to this, the Health Secretary has urged the States to promptly assess the local situation and consider imposition of appropriate restrictions today, tomorrow (December 31) as well as on January 1, 2021..