Guidelines for International arrivals during Covid-19: Here’s what you can expect

August 9, 2020 12:47 PM

Passengers want to know what to expect in terms of the scenario at the airport upon landing. The guidelines mention that social distancing will be followed while deplaning.

It has been suggested that all travellers download Aarogya Setu app before travel.It has been suggested that all travellers download Aarogya Setu app before travel.

By Nandika Handa

As people try and make their way back to India during the Pandemic it has been tough for some to know what to expect upon their arrival.

There have been some new guidelines that fell into place at midnight on the 8th of August 2020 (as per the circular released by the Government). Many people have been trying to find out if they can travel back and what changes this will entail for those who have planned their arrival after this date.

In this regard the Ministry of Health and Welfare has released guidelines for those arriving in India.

All the travellers coming in must register on the portal www.newdelhiairport.in and fill in a self-declaration form. This form will have to be filled at least 72 hours before arrival. All travellers also have to provide an undertaking whereby they agree to undergo mandatory quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine will be 7 days institutional, which the traveller must pay for. The next 7 days can be self-isolation at home where the health of the traveller can be self-monitored.

If the travellers have some pressing circumstances such as a death in the family, pregnancy or they have children below 10 years of age accompanying them they may apply for self-quarantine at home. In case the travellers need to apply for this exemption they should not leave it for “upon arrival”, they must apply on the online portal (mentioned above) at least 72 hours prior to boarding. The government will communicate their decision on the portal and this will be deemed as “final”.

Those who wish to seek exemption from institutional quarantine can also do so by presenting a negative RT-PCR test when they arrive. A word of caution here is that it is required for this test to have been conducted“within 96 hours of undertaking the journey”; it must also be uploaded on the portal for consideration. Along with this those arriving into India must also submit a declaration that vouches for the authenticity of this report. If the information is found fraudulent, the traveller is liable to criminal prosecution.

It has been suggested that all travellers download Aarogya Setu app before travel. All passengers will be thermally screened. Upon commencement of boarding, only those who do not have a fever and are asymptomatic will be allowed to board. All possible social distancing methods will be applied at airports during this boarding process. Precautions that serve to environmentally sanitize and disinfect premises will also be practised.

During the duration of travel the passengers and crew are meant to follow precautions such as wearing a mask, hand and respiratory hygiene along with environmental hygiene.

In the case of people arriving by land they too must be asymptomatic in order to be allowed to enter the country.

Passengers want to know what to expect in terms of the scenario at the airport upon landing. The guidelines mention that social distancing will be followed while deplaning.

Upon entry to the airport the passengers must show their self-declaration form to the staff that they have filled prior online. There will be a thermal screening post landing. If passengers are symptomatic they will be taken to a medical facility and be isolated immediately as per health protocol.

The remaining passengers will be taken to institutional quarantine facilities and kept in quarantine for a minimum of 7 days. These facilities are those that have been arranged by the Union Territory or State governments. These passengers will be tested as per ICMR protocol. Those who test asymptomatic / very mild case or presymptomatic will be allowed home quarantine for a minimum of 7 days. They can also be isolated in the Covid facility this can be public or private.

If a passenger has serious/mild/moderate symptoms he/ she will be admitted into a COVID facility. Those who are tested and found negative will be allowed to home quarantine themselves for the next 7 days. If these passengers develop symptoms they must inform the district surveillance officer.

Passengers who have been exempted from institutional quarantine after applying on the portal in advance (and have received approval prior on the portal), due to pressing circumstances are not exempt from quarantine – they too, will have to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days as per the requirement stated. It is also important to know that states have the freedom to develop their own set of protocols in relation to isolation and quarantine. This can be done after their assessment of the passenger after his or her arrival in the state concerned.

(The author is an Independent Immigration Consultant. Views expressed are personal).

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