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Fresh SOP requires mandatory COVID-19 negative report for travellers to India

Revised guidelines will be valid from October 25.

The Government of India (GoI) has revised guidelines for those arriving in India, stating that the revision had been brought in “in view of increasing vaccination coverage across the globe and the changing nature of the pandemic.’’

The revised SOP (standard operating procedure), which will be valid from October 25, requires mandatory COVID-19 RT-PCR negative report for those boarding a flight to India.

Also Read: Govt looking to vaccinate country’s entire adult population by year-end: MoS Health

All travellers should submit a self-declaration form on Air Suvidha portal before their scheduled trip and upload the negative RT-PCR report. This test should have been conducted within 72 hours before undertaking the journey, according to the guidelines. Each passenger shall also submit a declaration concerning the authenticity of the report and would be liable for criminal prosecution if found otherwise.

Thermal screening would be carried out on all passengers by the health officials present at the airport. The self-declaration form filled online shall be shown to the airport health staff. If a traveller was coming from a country with which India had reciprocal arrangements for mutual acceptance of the World Health Organisation approved COVID-19 vaccines and was fully vaccinated, that person shall be allowed to leave the airport and do self-monitoring for 14 days post arrival.

If partially/not vaccinated, travellers should undertake post-arrival COVID-19 test, after which they would be allowed to leave the airport.

Home quarantine

Travellers should go in for home quarantine for seven days and get a retest done on the eighth day of arrival, and if negative, further self-monitor their health for the next seven days, said the guidelines.

The list of countries from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival, including post-arrival testing (countries at risk) (updated as on 20th October 2021) includes countries in Europe such as the United Kingdom; South Africa; Brazil; Bangladesh; Botswana; China, Mauritius; New Zealand; and Zimbabwe.

The Health Ministry has clubbed under Category-A the list of countries with which the GoI has agreement for mutual recognition vaccination certificate for individuals fully vaccinated with nationally recognised or WHO recognised vaccine and those exempting Indian citizens fully vaccinated with nationally recognised or WHO recognised vaccines. These countries are the U.K., France, Germany, Nepal, Belarus, Lebanon, Armenia, Ukraine, Belgium, Hungary and Serbia.

Travellers from countries, excluding those nations at risk, would be allowed to leave the airport and shall self-monitor their health for 14 days post arrival. “This is applicable to those from all countries, including the ones with which reciprocal arrangements for mutual acceptance of WHO approved COVID-19 vaccines exist.”

Fifteen days must have elapsed since the completion of the vaccination schedule. The contacts of a suspect case would be those seated in the same row, 3 rows in front and 3 rows behind along with identified cabin crew. Also, all the community contacts of those travellers who have tested positive (during home quarantine period) would be subjected to quarantine for 14 days and tested as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) protocol.

The new guidelines also provide protocols to be complied with by international travellers. It also lists rules to be followed by airlines, points of entry (airports, seaports and land borders) for risk profiling of passengers.

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