All international passengers coming to India will have to quarantine at home for seven days, the Centre said in its revised guidelines issued on Friday. The new rules will come into effect from January 11.
The government also expanded the list of “at-risk” countries. It now includes the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong, Israel, Congo, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia and Zambia.
Travellers from “at-risk” countries will have to submit samples for Covid testing on their arrival in India. According to the new rules, they will be allowed to leave the airport premises only after their test results come in.
Those who test negative will have to quarantine at home for seven days. On the eighth day, they will have to undergo an RT-PCR test.
Samples of those who test positive will be sent for genomic testing. They will be accommodated at an isolation facility. States will then have to begin tracing the contacts of these passengers.
The guidelines said that about 2% of passengers of a flight from countries not in the “at-risk” category will be randomly tested for the coronavirus infection. The remaining procedure for quarantine and home isolation will be the same for all the passengers as of those from “at-risk countries”.
The ministry said that people who are planning to travel to India will need to upload a negative report of RT-PCR test conducted within 72 hours of boarding. They will also need to submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal.
Airlines have been directed to allow only those passengers to board the flights who have submitted the self-declaration form and uploaded the RT-PCR test report.
International passengers who are arriving through seaports and land ports will have to follow the procedure meant for those traveling by air. However, since no online facility is available for them, they will have to submit the self-declaration form on arrival.
Children under the age of 5 years are exempted from both pre- and post-arrival testing.
This comes at a time when the country is registering an exponential surge in coronavirus cases, fuelled by the spread of the Omicron variant. On Friday, India reported 1,17,100 new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total since the pandemic began in 2020 to 3,52,26,386.
Friday’s figures were 28% higher than Thursday’s count of 90,928 infections. After seven months, the daily caseload has crossed the 1 lakh-mark in the country. On June 6, India reported 1,14,460 cases, when the second wave of the pandemic had started to wane.