New rules for international arrivals kick in today amid looming threat of Omicron variant | Details

With the threat of the ‘highly transmissible’ Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 looming large, the Government of India’s new guidelines for international travellers is set to kick in starting Wednesday.

First detected in Botswana and later termed a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO), confirmed cases of Omicron have been found in at least 14 countries to date.

With multiple countries imposing travel bans on South Africa in a bid to curb the spread of the new variant, the Government of India on Sunday issued a revised set of guidelines for international travellers.

READ: Omicron variant doesn’t escape RT-PCR and RAT: Centre asks states to ramp up testing

As per the guidelines, all international travellers arriving in India will be required to fill a self-declaration form (SDF) and share a copy of their negative RT-PCR test reports with the airlines before boarding the aircraft.

For those with a travel history of countries other than the ones listed as ‘at risk’ countries, 2 per cent of such travellers will be subjected to random Covid-19 testing upon arrival.

If the test returns positive for the infection, the sample will be sent for genome sequencing and the traveller treated as per standard protocol. For those who test negative upon arrival, the government has advised home quarantine for at least 14 days.

The guidelines also specify stringent screening for travellers entering India from any of 12 ‘at risk’ countries. These include the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel.

Revised rules (at-risk countries)

  • Mandatory for those travelling to India from ‘at-risk’ countries to submit details of travel history dating back 14 days prior to the date of arrival, in addition to a negative RT-PCR report. These details can be uploaded to the Air Suvidha portal.
  • Such travellers will also have to undergo Covid-19 testing upon arrival and wait for the results at the airport itself.
  • If found negative for the infection, the travellers will have to observe home quarantine for a minimum of seven days followed by another Covid-19 test on the eighth day.
  • Travellers who test positive upon arrival will be escorted to a separate isolation facility. Their samples will be sent for genome sequencing as they undergo treatment.
  • The central government has also instructed airlines to conduct random Covid-19 testing of 2 per cent of the travellers flying to India from ‘at risk’ countries.

Source – India Today