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Govt issues new guidelines for international arrivals as new COVID-19 variants emerge

The Central government on Wednesday, February 17, announced updated guidelines for the international passengers coming to India in view of the rising cases mutant strain of COVID-19 in India.

Govt issues new guidelines for international arrivals as new COVID-19 variants emerge
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The Central government on Wednesday, February 17, announced updated guidelines for the international passengers coming to India in view of the rising cases in India. There has also been an increase in the number of people detected with a mutant strain of COVID-19 in India. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, India is following point-of-entry procedures for identifying international travellers, particularly at-risk travellers to India through a multi-pronged strategy of thermal screening and testing.

All international travellers coming/transiting from flights originating from the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East will be required to declare their travel history of past 14 days, stated the government’s standard operating procedure (SOP).

According to the guidelines issued by the Centre for international arrivals, from February 23, the passengers will have to submit a self-declaration form (SDF) for COVID-19 on the online Air Suvidha portal before the scheduled travel. Moreover, while filling SDF the passengers will need to select whether they plan to disembark at the arrival airport or take further flights to reach their final destination in India.

"All the passengers arriving from the United Kingdom, Europe and the Middle East shall be carrying negative RT-PCR Test report for which test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey. The same also shall be uploaded on the online portal (www.newdelhiairport.in). Airlines to allow boarding only those passengers who have filled in the SDF on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report," the statement read.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) in consultation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation has reviewed the situation with regard to point-of-entry actions required to minimise the risk of importation of mutant strains of coronavirus.

Each passenger is also required to provide a declaration concerning the authenticity of the report and will face criminal prosecution otherwise. 

All the travellers arriving from/transiting through flights originating in United Kingdom, Europe or the Middle East will be mandatorily subjected to self-paid confirmatory molecular tests on arrival at the Indian airports concerned, the guidelines stated.

The government said that keeping in mind the testing requirements for passengers from UK, Brazil and South Africa, who have to take connecting flights, airlines should keep the passengers informed about the need for the transit time of a minimum of six to eight hours at the entry airport (in India) while booking the tickets for connecting flights.

The airlines will need to identify the international travellers arriving from/transiting through the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa (during past 14 days) and segregate them in-flight or while disembarking to facilitate the authorities to follow the due protocol in respect of these travellers.

Travellers from Brazil, South Africa and the United Kingdom, testing positive (either at the airport or subsequently during home quarantine period or their contacts who turn positive) will be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate (isolation) unit coordinated by the respective state health authorities.

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