Is PCR testing mandatory for unvaccinated children travelling to India?

Travel agents have noticed a surge of queries regarding testing ahead of the summer rush



by

Nandini Sircar

Published: Fri 10 Jun 2022, 2:17 PM

Last updated: Tue 14 Jun 2022, 10:54 AM

Children who are five years old or above and unvaccinated are now required to take a PCR test before travel to India.

Travel agents have noticed a surge of at least 40 per cent in queries regarding PCR testing ahead of the summer rush. They say that both UAE residents and visitors who are currently in the country and looking to travel back to India are among those enquiring.

Salih Tharayil of Real Holidays Travel, Abu Dhabi, says, “Children who are five and above require a PCR test which should be valid for 72 hours. The report also needs to be uploaded on the Air Suvidha portal where the traveller is supposed to submit complete and factual information. It’s a self-declaration form.”

Tharayil adds, “We are getting a lot of queries from confused parents as the protocols are constantly updated. Some passengers find out about this information at the last minute and then rush to get a PCR test done. There have been a few others who discovered this at the airport and then have had to face a lot of problems.”

Passengers need to upload a negative Covid-19 PCR report on the Air Suvidha portal or a certificate of completing the full vaccination schedule for Covid-19.

Lakshmi Anand, Business Development Manager at Mapshore Travels and Tours, Dubai, says, “We have seen an up-tick in queries related to children’s PCR testing by almost 40-45 per cent. As the summer break is fast approaching, it’s important for passengers to remain updated and know that children who are five and above compulsorily need to undergo a PCR test to be able to travel to India.”

“However, while travelling from India to the UAE these formalities don’t exist any more. Other international sectors are also do not insist on PCR testing.”

Meanwhile, parents who are UAE residents and whose children are five and above, are beginning to get their children vaccinated to avoid any uncertainty pertaining to travel requirements, since these are subject to frequent changes.

Children under five years of age are exempt from the PCR testing unless they display Covid-19 symptoms.

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Sai Talwalkar says, “I got my five-year-old and nine-year-old boys vaccinated as we will be travelling to India and other destinations during the summer holidays. If your child is vaccinated, then you don’t have to constantly be worried about your kids contracting the virus and travel plans getting hampered. No matter how mild the virus is now, the fact is if children contract Covid-19 the mandatory isolation period still exists, and all the plans go for a toss.”

“We will be travelling after two years and it’s best to try and avoid as many difficult scenarios as possible. Besides, if children contract Covid-19 in a different country then it’s another kind of a problem. Now, at least we will have peace of mind. I stand by science and the UAE’s robust vaccination drive that has helped control the situation so well. Therefore I thought it’s best to get my boys vaccinated ahead of summer travel also to avoid these repeated PCR testing requirements which are a hassle.”

Nabnita Jit who is returning to India after having lived in the UAE for 15 years says, “We are travelling back to India for good on June 17. We haven’t gotten our son vaccinated yet as my husband and I want to think about it a little more. However, as we are due to travel soon, I was a little unsure about the PCR testing requirements for my nine-year old. So,I posted the query on two of my WhatsApp groups. Everyone informed me that PCR testing is now mandatory for unvaccinated children above five. I’ll obviously now have to go and get a test done for my child to avoid any confusion at the airport.”

Shreya Sircar, who was visiting her sister in Dubai during her daughter’s ongoing summer holidays says, “I've been informed by my travel agent that I need to get the PCR test done for my seven-year-old as I am travelling back home to New Delhi from Dubai this weekend. I personally think it's a little inconvenient for parents. However, this negative PCR report then needs to be compulsorily uploaded on the Air Suvidha website. I feel this has become more of a procedural requirement rather than really a substantive check.”

She adds, “According to my opinion, it’s become more of a paper filling activity and not so much of a functional requirement of tracing and tracking the spread of the disease. Therefore, apart from being a bother it also entails extra costs. As a parent, I am also not comfortable with the idea of administering the Covid-19 vaccine to my child , especially when there is literature to suggest that Covid-19 doesn’t impact children as much as it does adults.”


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