Government Revises COVID-19 Rules For International Arrivals

Amidst the increasing vaccination coverage worldwide and the altering nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the guidelines concerning international arrivals have been revised. The new guidelines concerning international arrivals in India will supersede all of the guidelines issued concerning the same subject on and after 17 February 2021. 

The new document will list the protocols that international travellers and airlines need to follow at the entry points (airports, land borders, and seaports) to conduct risk profiling of international passengers. This Standard Operating Procedure will be valid starting 25 October until further orders. Depending on the risk assessment, the document will be reviewed on a timely basis.

A traveller from a country with whom India has a corresponding approval from World Health Organization (WHO) w.r.t. COVID-19 vaccines, if fully vaccinated, will be permitted to exit the airport without doing a COVID-19 test. Also, the traveller will not even need home quarantine as per the latest guidelines announced by the Union Health Ministry. Nevertheless, travellers will need to present a negative RT-PCR test report and keep a check on their health for 14 days after arrival. 

Some countries have an agreement with India on reciprocal recognition of vaccination certificates of WHO or nationally recognised vaccines. Likewise, there are a few countries that do not have any such agreement with India as well. Only Indian citizens who are fully vaccinated with WHO or nationally recognised vaccines will be exempted.

Travellers coming from a few countries will need to adhere to other measures such as post-arrival testing on arriving in India. The list of at-risk countries as of 20th October 2021 includes South Africa, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh, Brazil, Botswana, Mauritius, China, Zimbabwe, and New Zealand.

Travellers who are partially or not vaccinated will need to adhere to measures such as:

  1. Sample submission for the COVID-19 test after arrival.
  2. Travellers will then be permitted to exit the airport; they must quarantine themselves at home for seven days.
  3. Travellers will need to perform a re-test on the eighth-day post-arrival in India. If the test is negative, they will continue to self monitor their health for the following seven days.

In case travellers who are under self-health monitoring or home quarantine develop symptoms indicating COVID-19 or test positive for COVID-19 upon re-testing, they will need to self isolate themselves immediately. Later, they will need to report to the nearest health facility or call either the national or state helpline number.

The health officials will be performing thermal screening for all the passengers who are present at the airport. The passengers will need to present the self-declaration form that was filled online to the airport health staff. 

While screening, if passengers look symptomatic, they will be isolated immediately and taken to the medical facility as per the health protocol. When tested positive for COVID-19, their relevant contacts will be identified and overseen as per the protocol. 

During travel, an in-flight announcement regarding COVID-19 has to be made on flights and at airports during transit. The in-flight crew should make sure that COVID-pertinent behaviour is adhered to at all times. If any passenger shows COVID-19 symptoms during flight, they will be isolated as per protocol.

International travellers who arrive via seaports and land ports also will need to follow the same protocol. However, the online registration facility is not available for such passengers yet. Such travellers will need to submit a self-declaration form on arrival to the concerned government authorities of India at land ports or seaports.

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