Home quarantine now for all international arrivals

Published on Jan 07, 2022 11:52 PM IST

All international travellers arriving in India from January 11 will need to quarantine at home for a week, the Union government said on Friday in its revised guidelines, updated in an attempt to slow the further import of Omicron variant infections

Health workers in PPE overalls at the isolation centre in CWG Village, Akshardham, in New Delhi on Friday.(Amal KS/ HT Photo)
Health workers in PPE overalls at the isolation centre in CWG Village, Akshardham, in New Delhi on Friday.(Amal KS/ HT Photo)
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

All international travellers arriving in India from January 11 will need to quarantine at home for a week, the Union government said on Friday in its revised guidelines, updated in an attempt to slow the further import of Omicron variant infections.

India already has designated several countries and regions at-risk, including all of Europe, from where passengers will continue to take an RT-PCR test on arrival, be allowed to leave the airport only if they are negative, and home quarantine for seven days. Those from the other countries will be allowed to leave, but will have to quarantine for a week and take a test at the end of that period.

According to the document, “the existing guidelines have been revised in view of reporting of a new variant of Sars-CoV-2 (B.1.1.529; named Omicron) which has been classified as Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization”.

The updated rule, requiring mandatory home quarantine and an RT-PCR for all arrivals on Day 8 -- irrespective of the place of origin of the journey -- will come into effect on January 11.

“Travellers shall also be required to upload results of repeat RT-PCR test for COVID-19 done on the eighth day on Air Suvidha portal (to be monitored by the respective States/UTs,” the order stated.

“If negative, they will further self-monitor their health for next 7 days. However, if such travellers are tested positive, their samples should be further sent for genomic testing at INSACOG laboratory network. They shall be managed at an isolation facility and treated as per laid down standard protocol including contact tracing,” the order added.

The health ministry also asked airlines to inform passengers originating or transiting from “at-risk” countries that they will undergo post-arrival testing, quarantine if tested negative and will have to undergo stringent isolation protocols if tested positive. It also asked the airlines to provide dos and don’ts along with tickets to the travellers.

The health ministry expanded the list of regions classified as at-risk, which now have 19 in all, up from around a dozen.

The government also specified to the airlines that they will allow boarding to only those passengers who have filled in all the information in the self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report.

Experts said the new rule may have come too late given that community transmission has already begun in India.

“Since here are clear signs of community transmission (of the variant in India), these rules may have been more effective earlier; at the start, as travellers brought the variant into the country. It would probably have made some difference then,” said Jugal Kishore, head, community medicine department, Safdarjung Hospital.

The 19 at-risk regions are Europe (including the UK), South Africa,Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong, Israel, Congo, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia, Zambia.

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