India Eases Travel Rules; Removed ‘At-Risk’ Category, Pre-Departure Covid-19 Tests For Fully Vaccinated Travelers

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The Government of India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday relaxed international travel norms and issued new guidelines for international travelers arriving into the country starting from 14th February 2022.

The new guidelines stated that international travelers are no longer required to undergo pre-departure Covid-19 tests as long as they are fully vaccinated against Coronavirus.

Only 2% of international travelers flying to India will be tested randomly on their arrival at the airport.

Among other things, the requirement for mandatory 7 day home quarantine on arrival has also been rescinded. and need for undertaking RT-PCR test on 8th day & uploading the same on Air Suvidha portal is dispensed with.

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Moreover, a reciprocal agreement for recognition of vaccination certificates between India and 82 named countries has been released and India has removed the category of ‘At-Risk’ countries, and now travel rules have become uniform for all countries.

New Guidelines For International Arrivals

1. Planning For Travel

All travelers planning to travel India should;

  • Upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report* (The test should have been conducted within 72 hrs prior to undertaking the journey) Certificate of completing full primary vaccination schedule of COVID-19 vaccination**.
  • Each passenger shall also submit a declaration with respect to authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution, if found otherwise.

They should also give an undertaking on the portal or otherwise to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Government of India, through concerned airlines before they are allowed to undertake the journey that they would abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority any post-arrival requirement to undergo home/institutional quarantine/ self-health monitoring, as warranted.

2. Before Boarding

Do’s and Don’ts shall be provided along with tickets to the travelers by the airlines/agencies concerned.

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Airlines to allow boarding by only those passengers who have filled in all the information in the Self Declaration Form on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report or Covid -19 vaccination certificate of having completed the primary vaccination schedule**.

At the time of boarding the flight, only asymptomatic travelers will be allowed to board after the thermal screening.

All passengers shall be advised to download the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile devices.

3. During Travel

In-flight announcements about COVID-19 including precautionary measures to be followed shall be made at airports and in flights and during transit.

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During in-flight crew shall ensure that COVID appropriate behavior is followed at all times. If any passenger reports symptoms of COVID-19 during flight, he/she shall be isolated as per protocol.

Proper in-flight announcements should be made by the airlines regarding the testing requirements and people who need to undergo such testing to avoid any congestion at the arrival airports.

4. On Arrival In India

De-boarding should be done ensuring physical distancing. Thermal screening would be carried out in respect of all the passengers by the health officials present at the airport. The self-declaration form filled out online shall be shown to the airport health staff.

The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to a medical facility as per health protocol. If tested positive, their contacts shall be identified and managed as per laid down protocol’.

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The following protocol post-arrival shall also be followed;

  • A sub-section (2% of the total passengers in the flight) shall undergo random post-arrival testing at the airport on arrival.
  • Such travelers in each flight shall be identified by the concerned airlines (preferably from different countries). They will submit the samples and shall be allowed to leave the airport.
  • If such travelers are tested positive, their samples should be further sent for genomic testing at INSACOG laboratory network.
  • They shall be treated/isolated as per laid down standard protocol.

All travelers will self-monitor their health for the next 14 days of arrival.

If travelers under self-health monitoring, develop signs and symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, they will immediately self-isolate and report to their nearest health facility or call National helpline number (1075)/ State Helpline Number.

5. International Travelers Arriving At Seaports/Land Ports

International travelers arriving through seaports/land ports will also have to undergo the same protocol as above, except that facility for online registration is not available for such passengers currently.

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Such travelers shall submit the self-declaration form to the concerned authorities of the Government of India at seaports/land ports on arrival.

*Children under 5 years of age are exempted from both pre-and post-arrival testing. However, if found symptomatic for COVID-19 on arrival or during the period of self-monitoring period, they shall undergo testing and be treated as per laid down protocol.

** There are Countries that have an agreement with India on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates of Nationally recognized or WHO recognized vaccines. Similarly, there are Countries that presently do not have such an agreement with India, but they exempt Indian citizens fully vaccinated with Nationally recognized or WHO recognized vaccines. On the basis of reciprocity, the travelers from only such Countries that provide quarantine-free entry to Indians will be allowed for relaxation under the Certificate of completing the full primary vaccination schedule of COVID-19 vaccination. The listing of such Countries is available on the website of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (mohfw.gov.in) and the link of the same will be available at the website of the Ministry of External Affairs and Air Suvidha Portal. This is also a dynamic list and will be updated from time to time. The travelers from such countries only are considered for allowing entry based on vaccination certificate & shall upload their fully vaccinate certificate on the Air Suvidha portal.

Contacts of the suspect case are the co-passengers seated in the same row, 3 rows in front and 3 rows behind along with identified Cabin Crew.

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