As new variant of Covid-19 virus, Omicron, alters the trajectory of the pandemic, India's policy for international travellers that was applicable from November 15th, has been revised. Vaccinated travellers from at-risk countries will now have to test on arrival, submit travel history and undergo isolation. As such, the list for at-risk countries has been revised on November 26th.
The new variant, SARS-CoV2- B.1.1.529 named Omicron, was first identified in South Africa and has been termed a 'variant of concern' by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Following its earlier policy announced on November 11th, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MoHW), has released a set of revised guidelines on November 28th. These will come into effect on December 1.
Which countries now fall under the at-risk category?
European countries, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Israel and Singapore.
Which countries have been added to the new list?
Israel and Hong Kong have been added to the earlier Category B list with cases of the Omicron variant being reported there.
What does the new list mean?
The new list is subject to revised guidelines including testing on arrival and quarantine measures.
What about vaccinated travellers from these countries?
Vaccinated travellers from these at-risk countries will also be subjected to testing on arrival.
What about unvaccinated travellers?
Unvaccinated travellers from both categories will be subjected to protocol from Category B.
What do Category A travellers (from low-risk countries) now need to travel to India?
- Carry a vaccination certificate (issued at least 15 days before travel).
- Submit a self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha portal.
- Upload a negative RT-PCR test report, issued no more than 72 hours before departure, on the portal.
- Submit a declaration about the authenticity of the report. They will be liable to criminal prosecution if found otherwise.
- Undergo thermal screening at the airport.
- Self-monitor their health for a period of 14 days.
In addition (based on revised regulations)
- 5 per cent of the total passengers of the flight will be tested on arrival, at random.
- These passengers, from different countries, will be identified by the airlines.
- The cost of testing will be borne by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).
- If tested positive, the passengers will be isolated as per protocol and their samples will be sent for genome testing.
What do Category B travellers (from at-risk countries) now need to travel to India?
In addition to the guidelines for Category A travellers, Category B travellers will need to undergo the following.
- Submission of sample for Covid testing on arrival. The passenger will have to pay for the test.
- Wait at the airport until the test results arrive.
- Home quarantine for a period of 7 days.
- Re-test on the 8th day. If negative, they will need to self-monitor their health for 7 days.
- If positive, the patient will be sent to a separate isolation facility as per protocol and their samples sent for genome testing.
- Contacts of such cases will be kept under institutional or home quarantine for 14 days, and monitored by the State Government, as per protocol. (Contacts of the suspected case are all passengers seated in the same row, three rows in front and three rows behind, along with identified cabin crew).
Are there separate rules for those landing in Maharashtra?
In response to the spread of the Omicron variant of concern, BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) has released guidelines for international passengers landing at Mumbai airport.
- Passports of all international travellers arriving in Mumbai will be scrutinised for travel history of the past 14 days.