A piece of good news for those travelling to India from Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and China, the Union Health Ministry in India has revised its rules for international travellers coming from or via these six countries.
As per the new guidelines, starting from 11 AM on Monday, February 13, 2023, all passengers coming from these countries will no longer be required to produce a negative report from a pre-departure Covid test or upload self-health declaration on the ‘Air Suvidha’ portal.
Significant Decline in Covid-19 Cases Leads to Changes in Testing Norms
The decision to revise the testing norms for international travellers coming from or via these countries was taken after observing a “sustained and significant decline in the trajectory of Covid-19 cases” in these countries over the past four weeks.
Furthermore, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also noted a decline of 89% in the number of newly confirmed cases globally in the past 28 days as compared to 28 days prior to that.
India has also continued to witness a declining trajectory, with less than 100 new cases being reported daily.
Continued Random Testing for All International Travellers
Despite the relaxation in the pre-departure testing norms, the random testing of 2% of international arrivals upon their arrival in India will continue, irrespective of the country of origin.
The 2% random testing has been put in place to monitor infections due to mutated variants of SARS-CoV-2 among international travellers to India.
Relief for Travel Industry and Indian Diaspora
This revision in testing norms will come as a big relief to the travel industry, as the previous testing norms had affected travel between India and the six countries mentioned.
Thailand, for instance, has seen Indians emerge as the biggest source for inbound tourists post Covid, while a significant amount of travel happens between all these countries, except China and Hong Kong, which are yet to return to pre-Covid norms.
All these countries also have a significant Indian diaspora.
Proactive yet Gradual Public Health Response
India has been updating its norms for international arrivals based on the pandemic situation, and the latest revision is part of its proactive yet gradual public health response to Covid-19 management.
The country had initially started conducting Covid testing for 2% of international arrivals from December 24, 2022, and then a few days later, pre-departure RT-PCR testing and Air Suvidha self-declarations were made mandatory for passengers coming from/via China, Japan, and South Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand due to a surge in Covid cases in these places.
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