In view of the threat posed by the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the government on Sunday revised the travel guidelines for international passengers and mandated Covid testing for travellers from ‘countries at-risk’ post-arrival. According to the revised rules, travellers from 12 ‘countries at-risk’ will need to take Covid test post-arrival and wait for results at the airport.
If the traveller is tested negative, they have to be home quarantined for 7 days. They will be re-tested on eighth day and if found negative, they will have to further self-monitor themselves for the next 7 days, the updated guideline stated.
The airlines concerned should identify the five per cent of such travellers to be tested in each flight, preferably from different countries. Such travellers shall be escorted by the airlines or the Ministry of Civil Aviation authorities to the testing area on arrival and the cost of testing of such travellers shall be borne by the ministry. The existing guidelines have been revised in view of reporting of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2, named Omicron (B.1.1.529), which has been now classified as a Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization, the Health Ministry said.
The revised guidelines of the Union Health Ministry for international arrivals in India will be effective from December 1.
The travellers also have to submit their travel details for the last 14 days and upload the negative RT-PCR test report on Air Suvidha portal before commencing their journey, the guideline states. Do’s and Don’ts shall be provided along with ticket to the travellers by the airlines/agencies concerned and airlines will allow boarding of only those passengers who have filled in the self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report.
Travellers to be allowed to leave the airport must self-monitor for 14 days, it said.
According to the revised guidelines the high-risk countries include countries in Europe, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.
The announcement comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a proactive approach and a review of plans for easing international travel curbs and urged people to be more cautious. Following the Prime Minister’s meet, an urgent meeting was chaired by Home Secretary on Sunday at 11.30 am.
The meeting was held with various experts including Dr VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, Dr Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister and senior officers from Health, Civil Aviation and other ministries. At the meeting, it was decided to review the Standard Operating Procedure on testing and surveillance of incoming international passengers, especially for those countries identified ‘at risk’ category, sources said.