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Airline officials ‘forget’ to carry out mandatory Ebola check at IGI Airport

In the blame game which ensued among the various authorities, including Jet Airways, Delhi Airport and Customs Department, at the airport right after the incident, it was only the ordinary passenger who ended up bearing the brunt.

Despite the worldwide Ebola scare, even the routine check-up for the deadly disease at the national capital’s international airport is not carried out properly. On December 17, along with two of her friends, this correspondent landed in Delhi at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. The Jet Airways flight - 9W 545 had taken off from Dubai and landed at IGI at 19:35 hours (running roughly half an hour late).

Despite repeated issuance of health advisories by the Government of India to heighten the screening process of incoming passengers from international flights for Ebola, this correspondent learnt that on the evening of December 17, nearly 10-12 passengers were let off by Jet Airways flight 9W 545 without any screening for Ebola at the airport.

The passengers were allowed to go ahead for the immigration and custom checks. Two forms were handed to everyone on the flight - one for customs check and the other, a lengthy one, for information related to Ebola.

As the crowd moved ahead, some were anxious to shop at the duty free area, the custom officers let off about 10-12 passengers right in front of this correspondent. However, when her turn came, along with few others onboard the flight, it suddenly dawned upon the officer in-charge that Ebola protocol had not been followed. The remaining passengers were told to go back right up to the point where they had deplaned, in order to be checked up by doctors and be declared ‘Ebola-free’. When asked why the others 10-12 passengers were allowed to go, the officers blamed the airlines for procedural laxity.

However, even as the dozen odd passengers were let off, others could see the doctors for  allocated Ebola checks, who were found to be standing in a corner and chatting among each other. 
This correspondent observed that the doctors were more interested in sharing personal stories than carrying out the mandatory check-ups for the deadly disease that has claimed over 7,000 thousand lives the world over. 

When asked why there was no screening for those passengers, Jet Airways promptly blamed the airport authorities while the customs department blamed the Airlines. Later, faced with protests, the “more aggressive” passengers were also allowed to go, while the quieter, rule-abiding ones were herded back to the plane.

When contacted regarding this issue, a Jet Airways spokesperson said, “Jet Airways is in complete compliance of all procedures prescribed by the Airport Health Authority with regard to passengers on board Jet Airways flight - 9W 545 from Dubai to Delhi. 

As a process, Jet Airways staff are required to escort and identify those guests to the Airport Health Officer who have travelled out of those five affected countries which the staff did on arrival at Delhi. 
The airline’s cockpit and cabin crew alike and the airline takes all the necessary precautions as per the directives issued by the Government of India.”

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