COVID-19: India's new international travel guidelines take effect; details here
India's new COVID-19 rules for international arrivals have come into effect from Tuesday. As per the new rules, the seven-day home quarantine is now mandatory for all international passengers. Earlier, it was limited to passengers arriving from "at-risk" countries. Once the seven-day quarantine ends, all arrivals must undergo an RT-PCR test on the eighth day.
Why does it matter?
- The new rules come at a time when India is witnessing a record surge in COVID-19 cases, likely driven by the Omicron variant.
- On Tuesday, India reported a whopping 1.68 lakh COVID-19 cases with a daily positivity rate of 10.64%.
- Stringent restrictions on international travelers are deemed necessary as the variant has mainly been imported from abroad.
Is international travel allowed in India?
While India has suspended commercial international travel till January 31, international flights under special bubble arrangements with countries are still operating. Notably, India has air bubble arrangements with 32 countries, including the United States, Singapore, Qatar, the UAE, the UK, France, Germany, etc. Moreover, India has also categorized some countries as "at-risk" nations. Passengers from these countries are subjected to more COVID-19-related restrictions.
Centre adds 8 new countries as 'at risk'
The Union Health Ministry had increased the list of "at-risk" countries from 12 to 19 last week. New countries added to the list include Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia, and Zambia. Earlier, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, etc., were on the list.
Traveling to India? Here's what you should know
As per the new rules, passengers coming to India will be required to upload a self-declaration form and a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report (no older than 72 hours) on the Air Suvidha portal before undertaking the journey. On arrival, passengers will undergo thermal screening by health officials present at the airport. Moreover, all passengers will have to undergo a seven-day mandatory home quarantine.
Mandatory RT-PCR test on 8th day
After the seven-day home quarantine, all passengers will have to undertake a mandatory RT-PCR test on their eighth day and submit the report on the Air Suvidha portal. If tested negative, passengers have to further self-monitor their health for the next seven days. If tested positive, they "shall be managed at an isolation facility," and samples will be sent for genomic surveillance.
Rules for travelers from 'at-risk' nations
Passengers from "at-risk" countries will have to undertake a mandatory self-paid COVID-19 test upon arrival. These passengers have been advised to pre-book a self-paid COVID-19 test online on the Air Suvidha portal. The passengers will be required to wait for their test results before exiting the airport or taking a connecting flight.
Children under 5 years exempted from testing
The guidelines notably exempt children under five years of age from pre-boarding and post-arrival COVID-19 testing. "However, if found symptomatic for COVID-19 on arrival or during the home quarantine period, they shall undergo testing and be treated as per laid down protocol," they stated.