Impact of B.1.1.7 coronavirus strain: 64% citizens want bubble flights shut with countries having cases of the new strain
- ● 45% citizens want the Govt to shut all flights with countries impacted with B.1.1.7 till January 31 and reassess then
- ● 19% citizens want all bubble flights shut till January 31st to minimize India’s risk
January 8, 2021, New Delhi: Bubble flights between the United Kingdom and India will resume today after being suspended since December 23rd, 2020 amid concerns over the highly infectious new mutated strain of coronavirus, the B.1.1.7. India temporarily suspended flights to UK following move by many nations like Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium imposing a ban to the country as a precautionary measure. Notwithstanding, that total number of UK returnees having tested positive for B.1.1.7 variant cases in the country has reached 71, the Centre announced on January 6.
LocalCircles had escalated citizen pulse to the Government on December 22, 2020, two days before the temporary suspension of flights to UK, in which 50% had suggested that bubble international flights from UK and other countries to be suspended. In the same poll, another 41% of citizens said they wanted a mandatory 14-day quarantine for passengers arriving from impacted countries i.e., UK, South Africa, Netherlands, Denmark and Australia.
With the decision of the Government to resume bubble international flights from today (January 8, 2021), also with countries impacted with the new strain of coronavirus, basis feedback from citizens, LocalCircles conducted another poll to understand citizens pulse and if their perception to operate international bubble flights with impacted countries has changed in this 15-day period.
Over 40 countries around the world now have B.1.1.7 cases reported during this 15-day period. Per scientists, this new strain of Covid is between 50% and 70% more transmissible. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India has issued a guideline that mandates all passengers travelling from the UK to India from January 8 to 31 to undergo a mandatory self-paid RT-PCR test at the airport, which costs INR 3,400 per passenger.
64% citizens want bubble flights shut with countries having cases of the new B.1.1.7 coronavirus strain
The survey asked citizens, “Given that over 70 cases of the new B.1.1.7 coronavirus strain have already been identified, what should be India’s approach to bubble agreement with international flights?” 45% citizens said they prefer shutting all such flights to and from countries which have cases of the new B.1.1.7 coronavirus strain till January 31 and reassess then, and another 19% also said to keep all such flights shut till January 31. Another 19% said to institute mandatory Covid negative test certificate at boarding and mandatory test or quarantine at arrival and keep flights running per schedule, while 13% maintained that flights should be kept running per a reduced frequency but institute mandatory Covid negative test certificate at boarding and mandatory test or quarantine at arrival.
In summary, 64% citizens who participated in the survey want bubble flights shut with all countries that have reported cases of the B.1.1.7 strain while 32% citizens are in favour of continuing to run these flights with similar or reduced schedule.
“Given the highly transmissible nature of B.1.1.7 strain and now reports of even other strains like the E484K, many people are concerned that if these strains start spreading in India, given the population density, we could have a new wave of COVID at a time when India has seen over 250% decline in cases in the last 3 months”, said Sachin Taparia, Founder & Chairman, LocalCircles. “Many people have also expressed that India cannot afford a repeat of 2020 when despite citizens raising issues about ineffective flight screening and need for suspensions in mid-February on LocalCircles, it took over 4 weeks for the Government to implement the same”, continued Taparia.
LocalCircles will escalate the findings of this survey with Government of India for immediate consideration.
8000+ responses were received from citizens across 207 districts of India. 69% respondents were men while 31% respondents were women. 52% respondents were from tier 1, 29% from tier 2 and 19% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants are validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participation.