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India issues new COVID-19 air travel guidelines for international passengers

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In light of rising cases of coronavirus variants in India, the government has released a new set of air travel guidelines for international passengers, with a focus on those arriving in India from the UK, Europe and Middle East.

The Indian government has introduced a new set of air travel guidelines for international passengers arriving in India in view of the rising cases of mutant variants of the coronavirus in the country. These rules will come into effect from February 22, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has announced. 

Self declaration

It is mandatory for all international travellers to submit a COVID-19-negative RT-PCR report on the government’s Air Suvidha portal. The test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to the journey. Passengers must also submit a declaration attesting to the authenticity of the report and are liable to criminal prosecution if found otherwise. Arrival in India without a negative report shall be allowed only for those traveling to the country in the exigency of death in the family, but exemption under this rule must be sought online at least 72 hours before boarding. 

Passengers who show symptoms of COVID-19 on arrival at their destination will be isolated and taken to a medical facility as per government protocol. All others are required to monitor their health for 14 days and report to national or state level surveillance officers if they develop any symptoms during that time. 

Separate for flights from the United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East

Fresh guidelines have been issued for travellers arriving in India from the UK, South Africa or Brazil. These also apply to international passengers on flights originating from the UK, Europe and Middle East since there are no direct flights between South Africa, Brazil and India.

In addition to submitting a COVID-19 test report and a self-declaration on Air Suvidha, travellers from the UK, Europe and Middle East will also be subjected to a self-paid confirmatory molecular test on arrival in India. 

  • A passenger who tests negative will have to quarantine at home for seven days and get retested. If they test negative again, they will need to quarantine themselves for an additional seven days. 
  • If a passenger tests positive at any time during this period, they will be isolated and subject to standard COVID-19 treatment protocols.

COVID-19 testing for connecting flights

Passengers taking connecting flights to smaller airports after arriving at international hubs such as Delhi or Mumbai will have to declare their final destination prior to taking the flight. They will only be allowed to board their connecting flights if the results for the confirmatory molecular test are negative. The aviation ministry has therefore recommended a gap of six to eight hours between flights.