India on Friday made it mandatory for all travellers coming from abroad to undergo seven-day home quarantine followed by an RT-PCR test on the eighth day, widening curbs for international passengers in the wake of the fast-spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19.
The guidelines released on Friday come into force from January 11 and will remain effective till further government orders.
As per the existing rules, which have been retained in the revised guidelines, travellers coming from countries specified as “at-risk” have to submit samples for Covid testing on arrival and then are required to wait for the results at the airport before leaving or taking a connecting flight.
Those who test positive will be sent to an isolation facility.
If they test negative, they need to undergo home quarantine for seven days and then get the RT-PCR test done on the 8th day. If again negative, they have to further self-monitor their health for the next seven days.
They are also required to upload the results of the RT-PCR test conducted on the 8th day on the Air Suvidha portal (to be monitored by the respective states/UTs).
In the case of passengers coming from not-at-risk countries, they will also have to undergo mandatory seven-day home quarantine and follow all other protocols followed by passengers from at-risk countries.
However, airlines coming from not-at-risk countries will randomly select 2 per cent of travellers who will have to undergo RT-PCR tests at airports on arrival. Those found positive will be sent to an isolation facility and those found negative will follow the seven-day quarantine procedure.
The government also updated the list of at-risk nations, which now include all countries in Europe including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong, Israel, Congo, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia and Zambia.
For not-at-risk countries, the 2 per cent passengers to be tested at the airports will preferably be those coming from a third country who would have taken a connecting flight in the not-at-risk country, according to the revised guidelines.
Laboratories shall prioritise the testing of samples from such travellers.
“Travellers from all categories of countries (including those 2 per cent 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,” officials said, sharing details about revised guidelines.
International travellers arriving through seaports/land ports will also have to undergo the same protocols as above, except that facility for online registration is not available for such passengers currently.
Contacts of the suspect cases are the co-passengers seated in the same row, three rows in front and three rows behind along with the identified cabin crew, the guidelines said.
Also, all the community contacts of the travellers who have tested positive (during the home quarantine period) would be subjected to quarantine for 14 days and tested as per the Indian Council of Medical Research protocol, the guidelines stated.
Children under 5 are exempted from both pre- and post-arrival testing. However, if found symptomatic for COVID-19 on arrival or during the home quarantine period, they shall undergo testing and be treated according to the laid down protocol.
Prior to undertaking the journey, all travellers will have to upload a negative RT-PCR report of the test conducted within 72 hours of the beginning of the journey.
Each passenger shall also submit a declaration with respect to the authenticity of the report and will be liable for a criminal prosecution, if found otherwise, according to the guidelines.