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Ministry of Health revises guidelines for global travelers

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday, October 20, issued the revised guidelines for international passengers coming to India. The revised guidelines state that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) shall be valid w.e.f. October 25, 2021, till further orders.

The newly issued guidelines are in supersession of all guidelines issued on the subject on and after February 17, 2021, and have made a provision mandating a negative RT-PCR test report for international travelers coming to India.

The guidelines for international travelers have been issued in view of the increasing vaccination coverage across the globe and the changing nature of the pandemic.

Negative RT-PCR test report mandatory

The revised guidelines have made it mandatory for all travelers to submit a self-declaration form, available on the online Air Suvidha portal before the scheduled travel. They also need to upload a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR report, which should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey.

It has also mandated the airlines to ensure the availability of negative RT-PCR reports before allowing the travelers to board.

Guidelines for travelers from countries ” at-risk”

Countries at risk are those from where travelers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing. Countries at risk have been categorized into two – Category A countries and the remaining countries. The government has extended certain relaxations to travelers coming from countries that have an agreement with India on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates of nationally or WHO-recognized vaccines and those which exempt quarantine rules for fully vaccinated Indian citizens.

The fully vaccinated travelers belonging to Category A counties shall do self-health monitoring for 14 days post-arrival. While the not/ or partially vaccinated travelers from category A countries, are required to get a post-arrival covid test, home quarantine for 7 days, and re-test on the 8th day. If negative, they shall do self-health monitoring for the next 7 days.

Travelers from the ‘Remaining Countries’ shall also follow the guidelines same as not/ partially vaccinated from category A countries.

Guidelines for travelers from countries excluding countries at risk

The travelers coming from countries excluding those enlisted as countries at risk, have to self-monitor themselves for 14 days post-arrival.

Any traveler developing any symptom during the 14-day post arrival period or tests positive on repeat testing shall report to the nearest health facility or contact the national or state helpline number.

Quarantine relaxations

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 all such countries which provide quarantine-free entry to Indians are allowed certain relaxations on arrival (Category A Countries).

Recently, the UK lifted its mandatory quarantine rules for Indian travelers fully vaccinated with Covishield or any other UK-approved vaccine.

The Government also issued certain do’s and don’t before boarding, during travel, and upon arrival to be followed by the travelers and the airlines.

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