162 UK nationals sent to mandatory home quarantine

The rules have been seen as a tit-for-tat response to UK’s decision not to recognise Indian vaccine certificates.
When heading to the other country, people of either nation now need a pre-departure Covid-19 test, a test on arrival (in the UK, this needs to be taken on Day 2), and a test on the eighth day after their arrival – irrespective of their vaccination status.(Unsplash)
When heading to the other country, people of either nation now need a pre-departure Covid-19 test, a test on arrival (in the UK, this needs to be taken on Day 2), and a test on the eighth day after their arrival – irrespective of their vaccination status.(Unsplash)
Published on Oct 05, 2021 01:49 AM IST
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BySweta Goswami, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

New “reciprocal” Covid-19 rules for UK nationals arriving into India came into force on Monday, with authorities sending 162 of 539 people who arrived in three flights from the country to mandatory home quarantine after making them sign affidavits.

The rules have been seen as a tit-for-tat response to UK’s decision not to recognise Indian vaccine certificates. When heading to the other country, people of either nation now need a pre-departure Covid-19 test, a test on arrival (in the UK, this needs to be taken on Day 2), and a test on the eighth day after their arrival – irrespective of their vaccination status.

Such rules do not apply to arrivals from other low-Covid countries in either UK or India.

“We are strictly following the guidelines issued by the Central government according to which only UK nationals are being subjected to mandatory home quarantine. Of the 539 passengers from the UK, 162 were marked for mandatory home quarantine for 10 days. Rest of the passengers, non-UK nationals, will not be put under surveillance,” said a senior revenue official deputed at the airport for handling UK passengers.

To be sure, home quarantine was mandatory for arrivals from UK due to the prevalence of the Alpha variant there, but it was not strictly enforced.

According to senior government officials, who asked not to be named, no passenger from the flights that arrived on Monday tested positive for Covid-19 during the mandatory RT-PCR test at the airport. This is in addition to the RT-PCR test which they have to take before boarding the flight from the UK.

According to the official quoted above, those sent to mandatory home quarantine are being monitored by respective district administrations. Delhi has 11 districts and in each, there are dedicated teams that follow-up on those under home quarantine and check for violations. Violating a mandatory home quarantine is an offence under the DDMA Act and attracts penal action.

“These passengers are made to sign an affidavit at the airport which also asks them to mention their place of stay for the next 10 days. Once they are done with the RT-PCR test at the airport and the result is negative, the affidavit having the addresses, contact numbers of these passengers are sent to the respective district magistrates so that they can initiate Covid-19 surveillance on them,” said a second government official.

On day eight of the 10-day quarantine such passengers will have to take a Covid-19 test at their own cost. “By the time the result of the RT-PCR test comes, it will be the 10th day of home quarantine since their arrival in India,” said the official.

A senior airport official said that there were three flights that came from the United Kingdom by Monday evening. “The first flight that came from London was UK-018 at 12.30 am and this flight was carrying 114 passengers. The second was British Airways 257 at 9 am, which was carrying 250 passengers, and 45 of them were transit passengers. The third flight arrived at IGI airport an hour later at 10 am. The Air India 112 flight was carrying 175 passengers, of which 65 were transit passengers,” this person said.

“There are separate immigration counters made especially for the passengers coming from the UK. This setup was made so these passengers don’t merge with ones coming from other places. Once they land, they are taken to these counters in batches of at most 25 people and their RT-PCR test is conducted here. For those who turn up positive, they are shifted to a hospital,” said the official.

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Wednesday, December 01, 2021