Given the emergence of the new variant, India had implemented new arrival rules on December 1, 2021. India had instituted new home quarantine requirements earlier in January 2022. Now, they are making a slight concession. The new rules are effective January 22, 2022, 00:01 Hours IST and here are the details.
India requires on-arrival testing for those arriving from Countries at Risk
India had mandated that all travellers arriving in India, irrespective of their Covid-19 vaccination status, from countries on the at-risk list will now need to undergo post-arrival Covid-19 testing on arrival in India.
For reference, India has the following countries on its list of at-risk countries as of January 7, 2022.
- Countries in Europe, including The United Kingdom
- South Africa
- New Zealand
- Hong Kong
Passengers found positive in these tests on arrival were earlier required be isolated and treated as per the clinical management protocol, besides their samples also taken for Genome Sequencing. The passengers found negative can depart the airport but have to undergo home quarantine for seven days, followed by repeat testing on day 8 of their arrival in India, followed by seven days of self-monitoring. This has now changed. The new circular says, “They shall be treated/isolated as per laid down standard protocol.”
There is a long list of approved tests to prove you are infected or not, and apart from RT-PCR, rapid PCR tests are also going to be accepted. Remember, they are going to be much more expensive, though.
These tests will have to be paid for by the passengers themselves, and they won’t be able to leave the airport or catch a connection till their results don’t come back. Passengers can book and pay for the test before arrival or pay for them via credit cards or Indian currency once they land.
Random Testing for everyone
Further, the Government of India has also decided that 2% of the travellers arriving from countries, not in the at-risk category will also be tested on a random basis at the airport for Covid-19. These 2% passengers will be identified by the airline at random, and they will be sent to the testing area on arrival. In this case, the cost of the test will usually be borne by the airports, at least at many major airports.
From January 11, 2022, onwards, all travellers (including that 2% who were selected for random testing on arrival and were found negative) will undergo home quarantine for seven days and undertake an RT-PCR test on the 8th day of arrival in India. All these travellers shall also be required to upload results of repeat RT-PCR test for COVID-19 done on the 8th day on the Air Suvidha portal (to be monitored by the respective States/UTs). If negative, they will further 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 the INSACOG laboratory network. They shall be managed at an isolation facility.
Unfortunately, the Day 8 requirement will mean home quarantine remains for 9-10 days now. At least in major Indian cities, the testing and result timelines have become 48 hours all over again from anecdotal evidence.
Post-arrival testing can be exempted if a person travels from a ‘not at risk’ country and has a transit (without leaving immigration) in an at-risk country before taking the destination flight. However, if the person has travelled to any at-risk country in the last 14 days, they will be asked for post-arrival testing and other additional restrictions.
Those arriving from Europe, South African nations, Hong Kong, Israel and all the other at-risk countries will be subject to an on-arrival test in India. They won’t be able to leave the airport where they arrive until their test results come back negative. If they are discovered to be positive, they will be no longer moved to an isolation facility if not required. In case they are negative, they will need to make a Day 8 test while quarantining at home. Even passengers not covered by this statute might be randomly tested on arrival in India (2% per flight). Everyone will be required to quarantine for seven days and, after reporting back with a negative test on Day 8, will be able to go into public circulation.
What do you make of this new requirement for arriving in India?
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