NEW DELHI: The government has issued new guidelines for all incoming international travellers coming from or after transiting through flights originating from United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East.
From February 23, these travellers will be mandatorily subjected to self-paid confirmatory molecular tests on arrival at the airport of entry in India.
The Union aviation and health ministries have made these changes to contain the spread of the more infectious UK, South African and Brazilian variant of Covid virus.
All passengers will be required to submit a self declaration form (SDF) for Covid on online Air Suvidha portal — www.newdelhiairport.in — and must disclose their travel history of past 14 days.
Apart from all other information, these travellers will need to specify in the SDF if they “plan to disembark at the arrival airport or take further flights to reach their final destination in India.”
Those taking connecting domestic flights on arrival in India will will get a SDF receipt marked T (transit) and will need to show this on port of arrival airport for segregation.
Passengers coming from UK, Brazil and South Africa must keep a minimum transit time of 6-8 hours for their connecting domestic flights due to testing requirement. Immigration officers have been asked to identify travellers who originated or transited from UK, Brazil and South Africa in past 14 days from their passports.
“Airlines should identify international travellers arriving from/transiting through UK, Brazil and South Africa (during past 14 days) and segregate them in-flight or while disembarking to facilitate authorities to follow the due protocol in respect of these travellers,” the new standard operating procedure (SOP) says.
Travellers from UK, Brazil and South Africa taking connecting domestic flights on arrival in India will give sample for test at designated area and exit the airport only after confirmation of negative test report which may take 6 to 8 hours.
“Those transit travellers from UK, Brazil and South Africa who are found negative on testing at the airport shall be allowed to take their connecting flights and would be advised quarantine at home for 7 days… These travellers shall be tested after 7 days and if negative, released from quarantine, and continue to monitor their health for a further 7 days,” the SOP says.
Travellers from UK, Brazil and South Africa who are not taking connecting domestic flights and leave from the airport of arrival in India will “give their sample in the designated area and exit the airport…. State authorities/airport operators will collect and convey the test report to the traveller. If tested negative, they will remain in home quarantine for 7 days… These travellers shall again be tested after 7 days and if negative, released from quarantine, and continue to monitor their health for a further 7 days.”
Travellers from Brazil, South Africa and UK who test positive either at the airport or subsequently during home quarantine period or their contacts who turn positive, shall be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate (isolation) unit coordinated by state health authorities. Their samples will be sent to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Labs.
“If the report of the sequencing is consistent with the current SARS-CoV-2 virus genome circulating in the country, the ongoing treatment protocol including home isolation/treatment at facility level as per case severity may be followed. If the genomic sequencing indicates the presence of new variant of SARS-CoV-2 then the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit. While necessary treatment as per the existing protocol will be given, the patient shall be tested on 14th day, after having tested positive in the initial test. The patient will be kept in the isolation facility till his sample is tested negative,” the SOP says.