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COVID-19 new variant: Health Ministry revises guidelines for international arrivals

COVID-19 new variant: Health Ministry revises guidelines for international arrivals

All travellers will need to submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal before the scheduled travel. Passengers coming from 'countries at-risk’ will have to undergo RT-PCR testing on arrival in India.

The existing guidelines have been revised in view of reporting of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2. The existing guidelines have been revised in view of reporting of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2.

Amidst the emergence of Omicron, a new variant of COVID-19, the Union Health Ministry on Sunday revised the guidelines for international travellers arriving in India.

Under the new guidelines, all travellers will need to submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal before the scheduled travel, including last 14 days travel details. They will also have to upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report. The test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey. 

"The existing guidelines have been revised in view of reporting of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 (B.1.1.529; named Omicron) which has been now classified as Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization," the Health Ministry said. The new guidelines will come into effect from December 1, 2021.

Passengers coming from 'countries at-risk’ will have to undergo RT-PCR testing on arrival in India. The Health Ministry has classified countries in Europe, including UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel as the 'countries at-risk’.

On testing negative, travellers from these countries will need to home quarantine for seven days and undergo another test on the eighth day. If results are negative, they can self-monitor their health for the next seven days. However, if such travellers are tested positive, their samples should be sent for genomic testing at INSACOG laboratory network.

"They shall be managed at separate isolation facility and treated as per laid down standard protocol...The contacts of such positive case should be kept under institutional quarantine or at home quarantine monitored strictly by the concerned state government as per laid down protocol," the ministry said.

Travellers coming from countries not classified as 'countries at-risk', will be allowed to leave the airport and self-monitor their health for 14 days post arrival. However, 5 per cent of the total flight passengers from such countries will have to undergo post-arrival testing at random at the airport on arrival.

"If such travellers are tested positive, they shall be managed as per laid down standard protocol and samples would further send for genomic testing," as per the guidelines.

International travellers arriving through seaports/ land ports will also have to undergo the same protocol, except that facility for online registration is not available for such passengers currently. Such travellers will have to submit the self-declaration form to the concerned authorities of Government of India at seaports/ land ports on arrival.

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