March 24, 2023

Covid-19: No pre-departure RT-PCR for those fully vaccinated in 82 countries; at-risk categorisation goes & no test on Day 8 of arrival – Times of India

NEW DELHI: In the biggest relaxation for international arrivals to India since Covid, the government will from February 14 allow passengers to upload their certificate of completing full primary Covid-19 vaccination schedule in 82 countries. The Union health ministry has also removed the list of at-risk countries and replaced it with another list of countries on a mutually accepted basis in respect of which primary vaccination schedule completion certificate is allowed to be uploaded. These include Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Maldives, New Zealand, Netherlands, Qatar, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and USA. China is not on the list. The requirement of getting a Covid test done on day 8 of arrivals also goes from February 14.
This major relaxation could spur foreign inbound travel to India if the suspension of scheduled commercial flights is lifted as fares under bubble flights are very steep. The revised guidelines for international arrivals issued by the health ministry says as much: “…cognizance is also given to the fact that economic activities need to be taken up in an unhindered manner.” The change comes into effect from February 14, 12.01 am (IST).
Under planning to travel, the guidelines say: “All travelers should (a) Submit complete and factual information in self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal ( before the scheduled travel, including last 14 days travel details…. (b) Upload a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR report* (The test should have been conducted within 72 hrs prior to undertaking the journey) or certificate of completing full primary vaccination schedule of Covid-19 vaccination**.”
With at-risk categorisation gone, international arrival process becomes simpler. “Thermal screening would be carried out in respect of all passengers.. passengers found symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to medical facility as per health protocol. If tested positive, their contacts shall be identified and managed as per laid down protocol,” the revised rules says.
“2% of the total passengers in flight shall undergo random post- arrival testing at the airport on arrival. Such travellers in each flight shall be identified by the concerned airlines (preferably from different countries). They will submit the samples and shall be allowed to leave the airport. If such travellers are tested positive, their samples should be further sent for genomic testing at INSACOG laboratory network. They shall be treated/isolated as per laid down standard protocol,” it adds.
All travelers will self-monitor their health for next 14 days of arrival. If travelers under self-health monitoring, develop signs and symptoms suggestive of Covid, they will immediately self-isolate and report to their nearest health facility or call national helpline number (1075)/ state helpline number.
Each passenger shall also submit a declaration with respect to authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution, if found otherwise. They will continue to give an undertaking on the portal through concerned airlines before they are allowed to undertake the journey that they would abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority any post arrival requirement to undergo home/institutional quarantine/ self-health monitoring.

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