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India revises Covid-19 guidelines for international arrivals in response to Omicron

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Bhandary Builders

As many countries impose travel restrictions due to the discovery of a new variant of Covid-19 Omicron, the Union Health Ministry revised its guidelines for international arrivals in India on Sunday.

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1. Planning for Travel
All travellers should submit self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal
(https://www.newdelhiairport.in/airsuvidha/apho-registration) before the scheduled travel, including last 14 days travel details.

Upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report. This test should have been conducted within 72 hrs prior to undertaking the journey.

Each passenger must also sign a declaration attesting to the authenticity of the report, and if this is not done, they will face criminal charges. Before they are allowed to travel, they should also give an undertaking to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, through concerned airlines, on the portal or otherwise, that they will abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority to undergo home/institutional quarantine/self-health monitoring, as warranted. Continuing with the previous approach, travellers from specific countries are identified for additional follow up (based on the epidemiological situation of COVID-19 in those countries). The listing of such specified Countries is a dynamic exercise based on evolving situation of COVID-19 across the world and will be made available on the websites of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, (mohfw.gov.in) and the link of the same will be available at website of Ministry of External Affairs and Air Suvidha Portal.

2. Before Boarding
All passengers should download the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile devices.

Passengers originating or transiting through at-risk countries must be informed by airlines that they will be subjected to post-arrival testing, quarantine if negative, stringent isolation protocols if positive, and so on.

The airlines/agencies in question must provide travellers with Do’s and Don’ts along with their tickets. Airlines will only allow passengers to board who have completed the Self Declaration form on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report.

After thermal screening, only asymptomatic passengers will be permitted to board the flight.

3. During Travel
At airports, on flights, and during transit, an announcement about COVID-19, including precautionary measures to be taken, will be made.

During flight, the crew must ensure that COVID-appropriate behaviour is observed at all times. If a passenger exhibits COVID-19 symptoms during the flight, he or she will be isolated in accordance with protocol.

4. On arrival
De-boarding should be done with physical distance in mind.

Thermal screening would be performed on all passengers by health officials stationed at the airport. The online self-declaration form must be shown to airport health personnel.

Passengers who exhibit symptoms during screening must be immediately isolated and transported to a medical facility in accordance with health protocol. If they test positive, their contacts must be identified and managed in accordance with the protocol.”

Travelers from the following high-risk countries will adhere to the protocol outlined below:

•At the point of arrival, submit a sample for a post-arrival COVID-19 test (self-paid). Such passengers will be required to wait for the results of their tests at the arrival airport before departing or connecting.

• If they test negative, they will be quarantined at home for 7 days. Re-test on the eighth day of arrival in India, and if negative, continue to self-monitor their health for the next seven days.

• If such travellers are found to be positive, their samples should be sent to the INSACOG laboratory network for genomic testing.

• They must be managed in a separate isolation facility and treated in accordance with the standard protocol, which includes the contact tracing mentioned in para (xiv).

• The contacts of such positive cases should be kept under institutional quarantine or at home quarantine, which should be strictly monitored by the concerned State Government in accordance with the protocol.

Pre- and post-arrival testing is waived for children under the age of five. However, if they are found to be symptomatic for COVID-19 upon arrival or during the home quarantine period, they will be tested and treated according to the protocol.

Travellers from countries other than those at risk will be allowed to leave the airport and will be required to self-monitor their health for 14 days after their arrival. On arrival, a subset (5 percent of total flight passengers) will be subjected to random post-arrival testing at the airport.

The airlines in question must identify the 5% of such passengers on each flight (preferably from different countries).

On arrival, such passengers will be escorted to the testing area by the relevant airlines/MOCA. MOCA will bear the cost of testing such travellers.

Laboratories must prioritise testing of samples collected from such travellers.

If such travellers are found to be positive, they will be handled according to the standard protocol, and their samples will be sent for genomic testing.

If travellers under home quarantine or self-health monitoring develop signs and symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or test positive for COVID-19 on re-testing, they will immediately self-isolate and report to their nearest health facility or call the National Helpline Number (1075).

International visitors arrive at seaports and land ports. International passengers arriving at seaports/land ports must follow the same procedure as described above, with the exception that online registration is not currently available for such passengers.

On arrival, such travellers must submit the self-declaration form to the concerned Government of India authorities at seaports/land ports.

Contacts for the suspect case include co-passengers in the same row, three rows in front and three rows behind, as well as identified Cabin Crew. In addition, all community contacts of those travellers who tested positive (during the home quarantine period) would be quarantined for 14 days and tested in accordance with ICMR protocol.

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