74% of Indians Want Govt to Suspend Flights to Nations Where C.1.2 Variant Reported: Survey

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A majority of people (74 per cent) want the Government of India to suspend flight services to the countries that have reported a new variant of coronavirus C.1.2, according to a survey. Besides, 66 per cent citizens are of the view that the Indian government should be cautious for the rest of 2021, given the risk of COVID-19 variants and a third wave, said the survey by online platform LocalCircles.

The variant has been found in South Africa, Congo, Mauritius, China, England, New Zealand, Portugal, Israel and Switzerland, it stated. Though the new coronavirus variant C.1.2 has not been found in India so far, Kerala has already announced to screen visitors from nations with C.1.2 COVID-19 variant cases, LocalCircles said in a statement.

It added that Mumbai's civic body BMC has also made RT-PCR test mandatory for international passengers arriving, especially from countries where C.1.2 has been detected. Last month, the Union health and family welfare ministry also made RT-PCR test, conducted within 48 hours of boarding, mandatory for passengers from these countries and another RT-PCR when they land in India. It is a similar protocol to the one that was announced in February 2021 after B.1.1.7 variant was reported in the UK and several other countries, it said.

This is applicable to Vande Bharat flights only, as the ban on international commercial flights stands extended till September 30, according to LocalCircles. The survey by LocalCircles received over 21,000 responses from citizens, with 63 per cent of them coming from men and 37 per cent from women, residing in 299 districts. Also, 44 per cent respondents were from tier-1 cities, 29 per cent from tier-2, and the rest from tier-3/ 4 and rural districts, according to the statement.

In the survey, the citizens were asked should the central government ban flights from all countries that have currently reported C.1.2 variant. "In response, the majority of 74 per cent of citizens said 'yes, better to be safe than sorry', and 19 per cent said 'no, it's too early to ban flights'," LocalCircles said in the statement. The remaining 7 per cent, however, did not have an opinion, it added.

"In response to another question 'what should be India's approach to COVID-19 management for the rest of 2021… the majority 53 per cent respondents said India should be 'extremely cautious', and 13 per cent said 'somewhat cautious'," according to LocalCircles. On an aggregate basis, the findings indicate that 66 per cent of citizens want the government to be cautious for the rest of 2021, given the risk of COVID-19 variants and the third wave, said the statement.

This question in the survey received 11,502 responses, it added.

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