Omicron scare: Health ministry issues revised guidelines for international passengers

All travellers, irrespective of Covid-19 vaccination status, coming to India from countries identified as ‘countries at-risk’ would have to mandatorily undergo post-arrival Covid-19 testing at airport on arrival.

The new guideline will come into effect on December 21, 2021.

The Union Health Ministry has issued revised guidelines for international travellers in view of reported cases of new SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron across the world.

All travellers, irrespective of Covid-19 vaccination status, coming to India from countries identified as ‘countries at-risk’ would have to mandatorily undergo post-arrival Covid-19 testing at airport on arrival. This would be in addition to the pre-departure Covid-19 testing undertaken 72 hours before the departure. The new guideline will come into effect on December 21, 2021.

Passengers found positive in these tests will be isolated and treated as per the clinical management protocol besides their samples also taken for whole genome sequencing, the the health ministry said. The passengers found negative can depart the airport but have to undergo home isolation for 7 days, followed by repeat testing on day of arrival in India, followed by seven days of self-monitoring.

The revised guidelines also mandate that 5% of the travelers coming from countries, which are not in the ‘at risk category’ will also be tested on random basis at the airports for Covid-19. Samples of all individuals testing positive for Covid-19, either at airports under home isolation or during random sampling, will also be sent for Whole Genomic Sequencing to the INSACOG network laboratories to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2 variants (including Omicron).

States have also been advised for rigorous surveillance of international passengers, enhanced testing, monitoring the hotspots of Covid-19 and undertaking samples for whole genome sequencing.

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