Passengers queue to get their documents verified before entering the IGI Airport amid the lockdown in New Delhi on May 30, 2020.(Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)
Passengers queue to get their documents verified before entering the IGI Airport amid the lockdown in New Delhi on May 30, 2020.(Sanjeev Verma/HT Photo)

Plan for Covid-19 test at airport for international flyers

The proposal to conduct Covid-19 tests at the airport, officials said, will be useful to passengers who are not carrying a recent test report.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Anvit Srivastava, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 18, 2020 04:05 AM IST

International passengers arriving in Delhi may soon get themselves tested for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at the airport and will not be required to go into institutional quarantine if the result is negative. The proposal by the airport operator is yet to be approved by the ministry of health, but staff at the Indira Gandhi International Airport is ready to facilitate the tests if it gets the go-ahead, officials said.

At present, passengers arriving from overseas are only screened for symptoms at the Delhi airport and are required to undergo a compulsory seven days’ institutional quarantine followed by seven days of home quarantine.

Some passengers such as pregnant women, those travelling with a child below 10 years of age, those who have suffered a death in the family or have a critical illness, or those with a recent negative Covid-19 report, may be granted conditional exemption from mandatory institutional quarantine.

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The proposal to conduct Covid-19 tests at the airport, officials said, will be useful to passengers who are not carrying a recent test report.

“It will help them go home straight away if the reports of tests conducted at the airport show negative results. However, the results will take at least eight hours, and therefore a special waiting area will be set up for these passengers at Terminal 3,” said an airport official, asking not to be named.

“Authorities at the Delhi airport are prepared to arrange for the required space and other things as needed,” he added.

An official at the ministry of health said the idea has just been put forward and the ministry of civil aviation is yet to respond to it.

Also read| Covid-19: What you need to know today

A second Delhi airport official said it is expected that once the ministry of health approves the proposal, it will be applicable to all airports across the country. “The decision on which airports will have the facility and which do not need it is to be decided by the ministry of civil aviation,” he said on condition of anonymity.

On August 8, the Delhi airport operator introduced an e-portal named Air Suvidha under which international passengers can seek exemption from institutional quarantine under five categories — pregnancy, death in the family, serious illness, accompanied by children below 10 years and tested negative for Covid-19 via a recent reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction ( RT-PCR) test.

Also read: Govt kick-starts talks to explore Covid-19 vaccine deal

For those granted the exemption, a dedicated channel was also set up at Terminal 3 to speed up their exit from the airport.

Currently, India is only operating international flights under the Vande Bharat Mission. Flights from France, the US and Germany, among others, are also operating in India under a bilateral air bubble arrangements that have been signed with these countries.

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