The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt of India on Wednesday issued new guidelines for all international travellers, particularly at-risk travellers to India through a multi-pronged strategy of thermal screening and testing.

There is increasing evidence that the mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2 are in circulation in many countries and these mutant variants are driving the pandemic in their country of origin. So far, the three SARSCoV-2 variants in circulation viz-a-viz

  • UK Variant VOC 202012/01 (B.1.1.7)
  • South Africa variant [501Y.V2 (B.1.351)] and
  • Brazil variant [P.1 (P.1)] – have been detected in 86, 44, and 15 countries respectively.

All three variants have demonstrated increased transmissibility, as reported by World Health Organization.

“To reduce the risk of importation of mutant strains of SARS-CoV-2, SOP for international passengers arriving in India have been updated; new SOP will be in effect on 23:59 hrs on 22nd Feb”:

Ministry of Civil Aviation

This document addresses all the actions that need to be taken in two parts:

The entry Airports for flight services would be decided by the Ministry of Civil Aviation based on the
Bilateral/Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) flights.

This Standard Operating Procedure shall be valid w.e.f. 22nd February 2021 (23.59 Hrs IST) till further orders. Based on the risk assessment, this document shall be reviewed from time to time.

Part A – For all international travellers except travellers coming through flights originating from United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East

  1. Planning for Travel
  2. Before Boarding
  3. During Travel
  4. On Arrival
  5. International travellers arriving at seaports/land ports

1. Planning for Travel

  1. All travellers should (i) submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal before the scheduled travel (ii) upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report. This test should have been conducted within 72 hrs prior to undertaking the journey. 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.
  2. They should also give an undertaking on the portal or otherwise to the Ministry of Civil Aviation,
    Govt. 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 to undergo home quarantine/ self-monitoring of their health for 14 days, or as warranted.
  3. Arrival in India without a negative report shall be allowed only for those traveling to India in the exigency of death in the family.
  4. If they wish to seek such exemption under para (iii) above, they shall apply to the online portal at least 72 hours before boarding. The decision taken by the government as communicated on the online portal will be final.

2. Before Boarding

  • Do’s and Don’ts shall be provided along with tickets to the travellers by the airlines/agencies concerned.
  • Airlines to allow boarding only those passengers who have filled in the Self Declaration Form
    on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report.
  • At the time of boarding the flight, only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to board after the thermal screening.
  • All passengers shall be advised to download the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile devices.
  • Suitable precautionary measures such as environmental sanitation and disinfection shall be ensured at the airports.
  • During boarding all possible measures to ensure physical distancing is to be ensured.

3. During Travel

  • Suitable announcement about COVID-19 including precautionary measures to be followed
    shall be made at airports and in flights and during transit.
  • While on board the flight, required precautions such as wearing of masks, environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene, hand hygiene, etc. are to be observed by airline staff, crew, and all passengers.

4. On Arrival

  • Deboarding 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 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.
  • The passengers who have been exempted for pre-arrival RT-PCR testing [para (iii) and (iv) of A.1 above] (as approved and indicated on the online portal in advance) will show the same to the respective State counters. They will be prioritized for sample collection in the designated area, samples collected and permitted to exit the airport. They shall monitor their health for 14 days (subject to negative test report of the sample taken at the Airport that would be conveyed to such travellers by the concerned State authorities/airport operators).
  • All other passengers who have uploaded RT-PCR negative certificates on Air Suvidha portal shall be allowed to leave the airport/to take transit flights and will be required to undertake self-monitoring of their health for 14 days.
  • All such passengers will also be provided with the list of the National and State level surveillance officers and the respective call centre numbers, to inform State/National Call Centres in case they develop symptoms at any time during the quarantine or self-monitoring of their health.

5. International travellers arriving at seaports/land ports

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

Part B – For all international travellers coming/transiting through flights originating from United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East

All the clauses as above (part A) shall be applicable to such travellers coming/transiting from flights originating in United Kingdom, Europe, and the Middle East except for clauses on testing, quarantine, and isolation as specified below:

All international travellers coming/transiting from flights originating from United Kingdom, Europe, and the Middle East as described in the scope above should submit the Self-Declaration Form (SDF) for COVID on the online Air Suvidha portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) before the scheduled travel and will be required to declare their travel history (of past 14 days).

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. Also, all the community contacts of those travellers who have tested positive (during the home quarantine period) would be subjected to institutional quarantine in separate Quarantine Centers for 14 days and tested as per ICMR protocol.

Please Note

  • States may consider (if required) additional requirements with regards to testing, quarantine, and isolation as per their risk assessment.
  • The States should however do the same under timely intimation to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • Further, States should adequately publicize such additional requirements on their official websites well in advance to avoid inconvenience to the travellers.
  • The travellers destined to a specific State are also requested to refer to State specific official
    websites to be well informed about such additional requirements.

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