All international travellers visiting India need a negative RT-PCR test, according to India’s revised guidelines for international arrivals that will be implemented from October 25.
The Government of India has reviewed the existing guidelines for international arrivals as the global trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to decline with increasing vaccination coverage across the globe resulting in the changing nature of the pandemic.
An order issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, read, “The global trajectory of COVID-19 pandemic continues to decline with certain regional variations. The need to monitor the continuously changing nature of the virus and the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) must still remain in focus.”
It further read, “The existing guidelines (issued on 17th February 2021 with subsequent addendums) for international arrivals in India have been formulated taking a risk-based approach. In view of increasing vaccination coverage across the globe and the changing nature of the pandemic, the existing guidelines for international arrivals in India have been reviewed.”
The order stated that the revised protocols need to be adhered to by international travellers as well as by airlines at points of entry (airports, seaports and land borders) for risk profiling of passengers. As per the order, all travellers should submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal before the scheduled travel, upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report (this test should have been conducted within 72 hrs prior to undertaking the journey) and each passenger shall also submit a declaration with respect to the authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution if found otherwise.
The order informed that continuing with the earlier approach, travellers from certain specified countries (based on the epidemiological situation of COVID-19 in those countries) are identified for additional follow up.
These include the need for additional measures. The listing of such specified Countries is a dynamic exercise based on the evolving situation of COVID-19 across the world and will be made available on the websites of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, and the link of the same will be available at the website of the Ministry of External Affairs and Air Suvidha Portal.
There are countries that have an agreement with India on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates of Nationally recognised or WHO recognised vaccines.
Similarly, there are countries that presently do not have such an agreement with India, but they exempt Indian citizens fully vaccinated with Nationally recognised or WHO recognised vaccines.
On the basis of reciprocity, the travellers from all such countries which provide quarantine-free entry to Indians are allowed certain relaxations on arrival (Category A Countries).
The order stated that before boarding, the dos and don’ts shall be provided along with tickets to the travellers by the airlines/agencies concerned. The order further directed the in-flight crew to ensure that COVID appropriate behaviour is followed at all times.
If any passenger reports symptoms of COVID-19 during flight, he/she shall be isolated as per protocol, the order read. It stated that if a traveller is coming from a country with which India has reciprocal arrangements for mutual acceptance of WHO approved COVID-19 vaccines (Category A), then, if they are fully vaccinated, they shall be allowed to leave the airport and shall self-monitor their health for 14 days` post-arrival. If partially/not vaccinated, the travellers need to undertake various measures which include submission of sample for post-arrival COVID-19 test at the point of arrival after which they will be allowed to leave the airport, home quarantine for 7 days, re-test on the 8th day of arrival in India and if negative, further self-monitoring their health for next 7 days, informed the order.
It stated that if a traveller is coming from a country excluding those covered under Category A, they would be required to undergo the measures as mentioned above, irrespective of their COVID-19 vaccination status. The countries from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing (countries at-risk) are countries in Europe including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand and Zimbabwe.