The government on Thursday revised guidelines for international arrivals, removing the category of ‘at risk’ countries – introduced when the Omicron Covid variant emerged – and now recommending to self-monitor for 14 days to see the symptoms against the current seven days of home quarantine.
The new guidelines will come into effect from Monday, February 14, the Union Health Ministry said. According to the new guidelines, all foreign arrivals must fill a self-declaration form online (available at the Air Suvidha web portal), including a travel history of the past 14 days.
They must also upload a negative RT-PCR test that was conducted within 72 hours of the travel date. Alternatively, they can also upload a certificate confirming they have received both vaccine doses.
The ministry stressed the “need to monitor the continuously changing” COVID-19 virus but also acknowledged that “economic activities need to be taken up in an unhindered manner”
This option, however, is only available for passengers arriving from 72 countries whose vaccination programs the Indian government recognizes as part of a reciprocal program. These countries include Canada, Hong Kong, the United States, the United Kingdom, Bahrain, Qatar, Australia, New Zealand, and some European nations.
Airlines will allow boarding of only those passengers who have filled in all the information in the self-declaration form… and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report or COVID-19 vaccination certificate…” the Health Ministry has said.
Only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board, and Covid-appropriate behaviour, including the use of face masks and practicing of social distancing, must be followed during the flight
On arrival, in addition to thermal screening, passengers selected at random will be asked to undergo RT-PCR tests. Passengers found to be symptomatic will be immediately quarantined and tested, with contact tracing carried out if they are found to be Covid-positive.
All other passengers must self-monitor for 14 days for any Covid symptoms, the Health Ministry said. These rules replace those announced in December when strict restrictions were put in place to prevent the more contagious Omicron variant from spreading.