* New rules come into effect next week
India will make Covid-19 molecular tests mandatory for people arriving from or transiting through flights originating in the Middle East, UK or Europe, the country’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said.
“All the travellers arriving from/transiting through flights originating in United Kingdom, Europe or the Middle East shall be mandatorily subjected to self-paid confirmatory molecular tests on arrival,” the ministry said in a statement, as reported by Reuters.
All such travellers should submit a Self-Declaration Form (SDF) for Covid-19 on the online Air Suvidha portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) before the scheduled travel and will be required to declare their travel history of the past 14 days, according to the guidelines issued on Wednesday.
All passengers arriving from the Middle East, UK and Europe shall be carrying negative a RT-PCR report for which the test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey. The same also shall be uploaded on the online portal (www.newdelhiairport.in).
Airlines will allow only those passengers to board who have filled in the SDF on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report. While filling the SDF, apart from providing all other information required, passengers need to select whether they plan to disembark at the arrival airport or take further flights to reach their final destination in India. Based on this selection, the receipt of SDF (despatched online to the transiting travellers) will display “T” (Transit) in easily readable and bigger font than other text. The passengers will need to display this receipt to state authority/government officials at the airport for segregation.
The revised guidelines have been issued in a bid to contain the spread of more infectious virus variants found in the UK, Brazil and South Africa. Accordingly, the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in consultation with Ministry of Civil Aviation, has reviewed the situation with regard to point of entry actions required to minimise the risk of importation of mutant strains of Covid-19.
The government late on Wednesday said airlines would be required from next week to segregate inbound travellers from those countries. India does not have direct flights with Brazil and South Africa, and most people travelling from these countries generally transit through Middle Eastern airports, the Reuters report said.
Airlines should identify the international travellers arriving from/transiting through the UK, Brazil and South Africa (during past 14 days) and segregate them in-flight or while disembarking to facilitate the authorities to follow the due protocol in respect of these travellers.
Airports can provide options to the passengers to do online booking of the confirmatory molecular test through respective website (Air Suvidha portal) or other appropriate platforms as well as to do offline booking. Digital payment facilities are to be ensured as far as possible.
India, which has reported the highest number of overall Covid-19 cases after the US, detected the South African variant in four people last month and the Brazilian one in one person this month. The government has said the South African and Brazilian strains can more easily infect a person’s lungs than the UK mutation. India has so far reported 187 cases of infection with the UK variant.
The revised Standard Operating Procedure shall be valid from 11.59pm (Indian time) on February 22.
The full guidelines are available at https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/Guidelinesforinternationalarrivals17022021.pdf