The Civil Aviation Ministry on Wednesday clarified that any airline crew member who has tested positive for COVID-19 once should not be retested for at least a period of three months.
No Crew Retest
In a circular, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said that the matter of RT-PCR testing of airline crew was taken up with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The ICMR, based on the opinion of experts, has clarified that any crew member who has tested positive once need not be retested for three months.
However, crew members with comorbidities may be retested before three months in case they become symptomatic.
It has also been clarified that all asymptomatic crew members who have tested positive once should be observed for 10 days. If they remain asymptomatic, they can be called back to work after 10 days’ isolation without a repeat test.
RT-PCR For Crew
The airlines have been asked to take appropriate action on the new guidelines for RT-PCR test of crew members. The circular has been issued to all the airlines.
In an earlier letter, the pilots had asked the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to keep in abeyance the order on mandatory breath alcohol testing for 100 per cent crew members operating international flights.
In a letter to the DGCA, the pilots had said that the operative part of the subject order on 100 per cent testing of crew operating international flights be placed in abeyance till a failsafe disinfection protocol is put in place.
“While endorsing the spirit of enforcing Aircraft Rule 24, it is suggested that the operative part of the subject order on 100 per cent testing of crew operating international flights is placed in abeyance till a failsafe disinfection protocol is in place,” the pilots had told the DGCA.
It was also suggested that a comprehensive safety risk analysis be carried out. This would go a long way in increasing the confidence of all the stakeholders, including the crew members, the pilots had said.
Positive Crew Rostered For Duty
Last week, The Times of India reported that a COVID-19 positive cabin crew of Air India Express was rostered for duty on a Delhi-Madurai sector flight last month. While the airline says the crew member’s test report came after the flight had taken off, some insiders claim that the same had come before the aircraft operated from Delhi and a crew shortage may have led to overlooking the report.
“Covid tests are not mandatory for crew before operating domestic flights. The crew member took a test on November 12 as she was to operate an international flight on November 14. On November 13, she was to operate Delhi-Madurai IX 012. The airline received her report on email from the lab at 10.28 a.m. on November 13, whereas the flight to Madurai from Delhi took off at 9.55 a.m,” The Times of India quoted an airline official as saying.
Confirming this, an AI Express spokesperson said the airline is “conducting a detailed investigation in this regard”.