The Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has made negative RT-PCR tests mandatory for all flyers from UK, Europe and the Middle East. These are a part of the new guidelines for international travellers which are going to be effective from February 22 in lieu of the COVID-19 variants from United Kingdom, South Africa, and Brazil.
Only those who are travelling to India due to the emergency of attending to someone's death have been exempted from producing a negative RT-PCR report conducted 72 hours prior to the journey. They are expected to be tested as soon as they land in the country and follow quarantine measures as per the government's mandate.
The ministries have charted separate rules for travellers arriving from direct flights or transiting flights from UK, Europe, and the Middle East. India has no direct flights to both South Africa and Brazil. Every traveller as to fill a self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha portal.
Rules For Travellers From UK, Europe, Middle East
Rules for travellers have further been divided into travellers flying from the countries where the three new variants have emerged and travellers from other countries. The passengers will have to be segregated on whether they flew from UK, South Africa, Brazil or other countries to these transit points. Their travel histories of the last 14 days will be collected by the cabin crew
For travellers from UK, South Africa, Brazil
1. For travellers transiting to other areas in India from the main airports
Passengers travelling to other areas domestically are expected to wait 6-8 hours before taking their connecting flights to other cities in the country. During this waiting period, they will be tested and only if negative, will they be allowed to proceed to the next destination.
They will be expected to self-quarantine for 7 days following which they will be retested and will self-monitor themselves for another 7 days. If at any point, they test positive, they will be isolated and their sample will undergo genomic sequencing to detect presence of the variant. If the genomic sequence is of one of the variants, they will continue to be isolated separately. If it is of the circulating strain in the country, they will follow the existing protocol.
If they test positive for the existing strain or any variant their close contacts which include co-passengers seated in the same row, 3 rows in front and 3 rows behind along with identified Cabin Crew as well as their family members will be separated and tested on the 7th day and will either be asked to home quarantine for 7 days if negative, or separately isolated if positive.
2. For travellers exiting at the main airports
Passengers ending their journeys at Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai are expected to be retested and then quarantine themselves wherever they are staying. Once the test results are out, they will follow the same rules as mentioned earlier.
All the costs for the tests will be borne by the pssengers.
For travellers from other countries transiting at UK, Europe, Middle East
Whether they are taking connecting flights or are leaving at the five major airports, these passengers have to get tested at the designated areas and if they test negative, they have to self-monitor for 14 days, and if positive are expected to follow the existing health protocols in the country.
Rules For Travellers From Other Countries
Travellers from all the other countries are expected to self-monitor their health for 14 days and get the tests if they develop any symptoms, they are expected to get tested and follow the existing health protocols in the country.
In the existing health protocols, positive patients can either opt for home isolation or institutional isolation while being treated for the disease.