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Covid-19: India issues new travel guidelines for international passengers, effective from Feb 14

The revised guidelines for international arrivals removed the category of 'at risk' countries.



Agencies file
Agencies file

By Our Reporter

Published: Thu 10 Feb 2022, 2:16 PM

Last updated: Thu 10 Feb 2022, 2:36 PM

India has issued revised guidelines for international arrivals, according to Mansukh Mandaviya, the minister of health and family welfare.

The guidelines, which will come into effect on February 14, have scrapped the mandatory seven-day home quarantine, the minister said on Twitter. “Follow these diligently, stay safe & strengthen India's hands in the fight against #Covid19,” the minister said.

According to the guidelines, the global and Indian growth trajectory of Covid-19 pandemic continues with regional variations. “The need to monitor the continuously changing nature of virus and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) thus, must still remain in focus.”

The extant guidelines for international arrivals in India continue being formulated taking a risk-based approach, it said. “While monitoring the nature and spread of infection in the country and across the globe, cognisance is also given to the fact that economic activities need to be taken up in an unhindered manner.”

The document provides protocols to be complied by international travellers as well as those to be followed by airlines and all points of entry (airports, seaports and land border) effective February 14.

The revised guidelines for international arrivals removed the category of 'at risk' countries, which was introduced when the Omicron Covid variant emerged, and also recommending self-monitoring of 14 days for symptoms against the current seven days of home quarantine.

The ministry emphasised on the "need to monitor the continuously changing" COVID-19 virus but also acknowledged that "economic activities need to be taken up in an unhindered manner".

All foreign arrivals must fill a self-declaration form online (available at the Air Suvidha web portal), including a travel history of the past 14 days. They must also upload a negative RT-PCR test that was conducted within 72 hours of the travel date. Alternatively, they can also upload a certificate confirming they have received both vaccine doses.

This option is only available for passengers arriving from 72 countries whose vaccination programmes the Indian government recognises as part of a reciprocal programme.

The ‘at-risk’ tag for countries has also been removed. Moreover, passengers from 82 countries are allowed to upload a certificate of full vaccination instead of a negative RT-PCR report obtained 72 hours prior to boarding. These countries include those which have an agreement with India on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates of nationally recognised or WHO recognised vaccines or those which provide quarantine-free entry to Indians.

The new guidelines require passengers to self-monitor their health for 14 days after arrival and isolate in case they develop symptoms of Covid-19. All passengers will undergo thermal screening on arrival and be isolated at a medical facility if found symptomatic. If they test positive, their contacts will be identified as per protocol.

According to the health ministry, airlines will allow boarding of only those passengers who have filled in all the information in the self-declaration form and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report or COVID-19 vaccination certificate.

Only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board, and Covid-appropriate behaviour, including the use of face masks and practicing of social distancing, must be followed during the flight. On arrival, in addition to thermal screening, passengers selected at random (up to two per cent of total passengers per flight) will be asked to undergo RT-PCR tests.

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Passengers will be selected by the airline and must "preferably" be from different countries. Those found to be symptomatic will be immediately quarantined and tested, with contact tracing carried out if they are found to be Covid-positive.

All other passengers must self-monitor for 14 days for any Covid symptoms, the Health Ministry said.


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