Centre issues norms for international arrivals, makes negative RT-PCR test must
The Centre on Wednesday revised the existing guidelines for international arrivals to India. The revised guidelines, which will come into effect from October 25, require mandatory RT-PCR report showing samples tested as negative for passengers to board an international flight to India.
“In view of increasing vaccination coverage across the globe and the changing nature of the pandemic, the existing guidelines for international arrivals in India have been reviewed,” the ministry of health and family welfare said in a notification.
International scheduled commercial flights to India was suspended till October 31 owing to the coronavirus diseases (Covid-19) pandemic. However, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation allowed international cargo flights and those approved by the regulator on select routes to operate.
The Indian government banned international commercial flights since March 23, 2020, to check the spread of the Covid-19 infection. It eased the restrictions on flights in certain countries with which India has had an air bubble arrangement during the past year.
The air bubble pact between the two countries allows the operation of special international flights by the national carrier between their territories. India has formed air bubble pacts with around 25 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the Maldives, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Qatar and Bhutan.
The revised guidelines laid down protocols to be complied with international travellers as well those to be followed by airlines, points of entry — including airports, seaports and land border — for risk profiling of passengers.
However, the Indian government travellers fromc ertain countries, including European Union, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand and Zimbabwe, would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival Covid-19 testing.
Know what the revised guidelines are:
A.1. Planning for Travel
i. All travellers should
a. Submit self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) before the scheduled travel.
b. Upload a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR report. This test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey.
c. Each passenger shall also submit a declaration with respect to authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution, if found otherwise.
ii. They should also give an undertaking on the portal or otherwise to ministry of civil aviation, through airlines before they are allowed to undertake the journey that they would abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority to undergo home quarantine or self-health monitoring, as warranted.
iii. Continuing with the earlier approach, travellers from certain specified Countries (based on epidemiological situation of Covid-19 in those countries) are identified for additional follow up. These include need for additional measures as detailed in para (xv) below. The listing of such specified Countries is a dynamic exercise based on evolving situation of Covid-19 across the world and will be made available on the websites of ministry of health and family welfare, (mohfw.gov.in) and the link of the same will be available at website of ministry of external affairs and Air Suvidha Portal.
iv. There are countries which have agreement with India on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates of nationally recognised or WHO recognised vaccines. Similarly, there are countries which presently do not have such an agreement with India, but they exempt Indian citizens fully vaccinated with nationally recognised or WHO recognised vaccines. On the basis of reciprocity, the travellers from all such countries which provide quarantine-free entry to Indians are allowed certain relaxations on arrival (category A countries). The listing of such countries is available on websites of ministry of health and family welfare (mohfw.gov.in) and the link of the same will be available at website of ministry of external affairs and Air Suvidha Portal. This is also a dynamic list and will be updated from time to time. The travellers from category A countries shall upload their fully vaccinated certificate on the Air Suvidha portal.
A.2. Before Boarding
v. Do’s and Don'ts shall be provided along with ticket to the travellers by the airlines/agencies concerned.
vi. Airlines to allow boarding by only those passengers who have filled in the self declaration form on the Air Suvidha portal, uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report.
vii. At the time of boarding the flight, only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to board after thermal screening.
viii. All passengers shall be advised to download Aarogya Setu app on their mobile devices.
A.3. During Travel
ix. In-flight announcement about Covid-19 including precautionary measures to be followed shall be made at airports and in flights and during transit.
x. During in-flight crew shall ensure that Covid-appropriate behaviour is followed at all times.
xi. If any passenger reports symptoms of Covid-19 during flight, he/she shall be isolated as per protocol.
A.4. On arrival
xii. Deboarding should be done ensuring physical distancing.
xiii. Thermal screening would be carried out in respect of all the passengers by the health officials present at the airport. The self-declaration form filled online shall be shown to the airport health staff.
xiv. The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to medical facility as per health protocol. If tested positive, their contacts shall be identified and managed as per laid down protocol.
xv. Travellers from specified countries at risk [as mentioned in para (iii) above] will follow the protocol as detailed below:
a. If traveller is coming from a country with which India has reciprocal arrangements for
mutual acceptance of WHO approved Covid-19 vaccines (Category A):
i. If fully vaccinated: They shall be allowed to leave the airport and shall selfmonitor their health for 14 days’ post arrival.
ii. If partially/not vaccinated: The travellers need to undertake the following measures:
Submission of sample for post-arrival Covid-19 test at the point of arrival after which they will be allowed to leave the airport,
Home quarantine for 7 days,
Re-test on the 8th day of arrival in India and if negative, further selfmonitor of their health for next 7 days.
b. If traveller is coming from a country excluding those covered under Category A, they would be required to undergo the measures as mentioned in para a (ii) above, irrespective of their Covid-19 vaccination status.
xvi. Travellers from countries excluding those countries at risk, will be allowed to leave the airport and shall self-monitor their health for 14 days post-arrival. This is applicable to travellers from all countries including countries with which reciprocal arrangements for mutual acceptance of WHO approved Covid-19 vaccines also exist.
xvii. Travellers under home quarantine or self-health monitoring, if develop signs and symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 or test positive for Covid-19 on re-testing, they will immediately selfisolate and report to their nearest health facility or call National helpline number (1075) or the state helpline number.
International travellers arriving at seaports/land ports
xviii. International travellers arriving through seaports or land ports will also have to undergo the same protocol as above, except that facility for online registration is not available for such passengers currently.
xix. Such travellers shall submit the self-declaration form to the concerned authorities of government of India at seaports/land ports on arrival.
The Union health ministry earlier this month issued travel guidelines and said based on the evolving scenario, the revised guidelines stood withdrawn and the earlier advisories on international passenger arrival issued on February 17 would be applicable to all travellers arriving in India from the United Kingdom.
India imposed a new rule that British nationals arriving in India, irrespective of their vaccination status, will have to undergo 10 days of mandatory quarantine from October 4 as part of the reciprocal actions initiated by the Centre following the Covid-19 vaccine certification row between the two countries.