The Maharashtra government on Wednesday issued a fresh set of guidelines for international passengers arriving from six “ultra-risk nations” at the Mumbai airport as the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has caused considerable panic across the globe, NDTV reported.

On Thursday, two cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 were detected in Karnataka, the health ministry said at a press conference. The World Health Organization has deemed Omicron as a “variant of concern” because of its increased transmissibility, infectivity, or resistance to vaccines.

Under the Maharashtra government’s new rules, only those arriving from six “ultra-risk” countries will have to undergo a mandatory institutional quarantine for seven days. These countries are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Eswatini.

The rule will also apply to passengers who visited these nations anytime within 15 days ahead of their arrival, and any passenger who is symptomatic. Once they complete their institutional quarantine, they will be asked to take an RT-PCR test. If the result is negative, they will be asked to quarantine at home as a precaution.

The passengers from “at-risk countries”, which includes many European Union nations, will not require institutional quarantine. However, they will have to take an RT-PCR test at the Mumbai airport at their own expense.

If a person tests positive, they will be moved to an isolation facility and their blood samples will be sent for genome sequencing. If they test negative, they will be home-quarantined for a week and the Covid-19 test at the end of the tenure will follow.

This order was issued after Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Wednesday had urged the state government to align its order with the Centre’s Standard Operating Procedure.

Earlier, the state had made Covid testing and quarantine mandatory for all passengers arriving at the Mumbai airport, irrespective of whether they arrived from “at-risk” countries.

Meanwhile, domestic passengers have to provide proof of two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine or a negative RT-PCR test not older than 72 hours before they board the flight.