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India Issues New Guidelines for International Arrivals

February 19, 2021

India’s Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has issued new guidelines for international arrivals. The Standard Operating Procedure will take effect from February 22, 2021 (23:59hours IST). The entry Airports for flight services would be decided by the Ministry of Civil Aviation based on the Bilateral (bubble)/ Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) flights.

Part A | Standard Operating Procedures for all international travelers coming to India, except travelers coming through flights originating from the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Middle East.

Planning for Travel

  1. All travelers should (i) submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) 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 (www.newdelhiairport.in) at least 72 hours before boarding. The decision taken by the government as communicated on the online portal will be final.

Before Boarding

  1. Do’s and Don’ts shall be provided along with tickets to the travelers by the airlines/agencies concerned.
  2. 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.
  3. At the time of boarding the flight, only asymptomatic travelers will be allowed to board after the thermal screening.
  4. All passengers shall be advised to download the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile devices.
  5. Suitable precautionary measures such as environmental sanitation and disinfection shall be ensured at the airports.
  6. During boarding, all possible measures to ensure physical distancing is to be ensured. 

During Travel

  1. Suitable announcements about COVID-19, including precautionary measures to be followed, shall be made at airports and in flights, and during transit.
  2. While onboard 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. 

On Arrival

  1. Deboarding should be done, ensuring physical distancing.
  2. 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.
  3. The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to a medical facility as per health protocol.
  4. The passengers who have been exempted for pre-arrival RT-PCR testing (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 travelers by the concerned State authorities/airport operators).
  5. All other passengers who have uploaded RT-PCR negative certificates on the 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.
  6. All such passengers will also be provided the list of the National and State level surveillance officers and the respective call center numbers so as to inform State/National Call Centres in case they develop symptoms at any time during the quarantine or self-monitoring of their health. 

 

Part B | Additional procedures for those coming from the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Middle East.

All international travelers coming/transiting from flights originating from the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Middle East 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).

  • While filling SDF, apart from providing all other information required in the SDF, passengers need to select:
    • Whether they plan to disembark at the arrival airport or take further flights to reach their final destination in India.
      • Based on this selection, the receipt of SDF (dispatched online to the transiting travelers) will display “T” (Transit) in easily legible text. Passengers will need to display this receipt to State authority / Government officials at the airport for segregation.
    • Keeping in mind the testing requirements for passengers from UK, Brazil, and South Africa, who have to take connecting flights, airlines should keep the passengers informed about the need for the transit time of a minimum
      6-8 hours at the entry airport (in India) while booking the tickets for connecting flights.
  • All the passengers arriving from the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Middle East shall be carrying a negative RT-PCR Test report for which test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey. The same also shall be uploaded on the online portal (www.newdelhiairport.in).
    • Airlines to allow boarding for only those passengers who have filled in the SDF on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report.
    • The concerned airlines shall ensure that prior to check-in, the traveler is explained about this SOP.
  • Airlines should identify the international travelers arriving from/transiting through the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa (during the past 14 days) and segregate them in-flight or while disembarking to facilitate the authorities to follow the due protocol in respect of these travelers.
    • In-flight announcements must also be made explaining the relevant information to the passengers. Relevant information shall be prominently displayed in the arrival area and waiting area of the airports of arrival.
    • The immigration officers of these identified airports shall also ensure the identification of travelers (from their passports) who originated or transited from the UK, Brazil, and South Africa (during the past 14 days).
  • All the travelers arriving from/transiting through flights originating in United Kingdom, Europe, or the Middle East shall be mandatorily subjected to self-paid confirmatory molecular tests on arrival at the Indian airports concerned (port of entry). The entry made in the SDF regarding the telephone number and address would be reconfirmed.
    • Adequate arrangements for passengers waiting for their confirmatory molecular test as well as test results duly following effective isolation may also be made at the airports in conjunction with the airport authorities.
    • The airport authority shall ensure streamlining of the systems for testing at the concerned airports to ensure seamless sampling, testing, and waiting for arrangements to avoid crowding and inconvenience to passengers. Once passengers arrive at the entry airport, Airport Operator should lay down a well-defined flow for such passengers at their respective arrival terminals leading to the waiting lounges and to the exit from the terminal.
      • Airports can provide options to the passengers to do online booking of the confirmatory molecular test through the respective website (Air Suvidha portal) or other appropriate platforms. As far as possible digital payment facilities to be ensured. Sample collection and waiting lounge for the passengers should follow all sanitization and physical distancing-related guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
  • The States/UTs Government concerned should set up helpdesks at airports concerned to facilitate the implementation of the SOP.

 

  • Travelers from UK, Brazil, and South Africa taking connecting flights from the arrival international airport (‘T” in their SDF).
    • Give sample at the designated area and exit airport only after confirmation of negative test report, which may take 6-8 hours.
    • Those transit travelers from UK, Brazil, and South Africa who are found negative on testing at the airport shall be allowed to take their connecting flights and would be advised quarantine at home for 7 days and regularly followed up by the concerned State/District IDSP. These travelers shall be tested after 7 days and, if negative, released from quarantine and continue to monitor their health for a further 7 days.
    • All those tested positive shall undergo the procedure as detailed in clause (xviii) below.
  • All travelers from UK, Brazil, and South Africa exiting at the arrival airport:
    • Will give their sample in the designated area and exit the airport. They will be followed up by the State Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).
    • The concerned State authorities/airport operators will collect and convey the test report to the traveler.
      • If tested negative, they will remain in home quarantine for 7 days and regularly followed up by the concerned State/District IDSP. These travelers shall again be tested after 7 days and, if negative, released from quarantine and continue to monitor their health for a further 7 days.
      • All those tested positive shall undergo the procedure as detailed in clause (xviii) below.
  • All other travelers from Europe and the Middle East (other than those in flights originating from Brazil, South Africa, and the United Kingdom) who have to exit the destination airport or take connecting flights to their final domestic destination:
    • Shall give samples at the designated area and exit the airport.
    • The concerned State authorities/airport operators will collect and convey the test report to the traveler.
      • If the test report is negative, they will be advised to self-monitor their health for 14 days.
      • If the test report is positive, they will undergo treatment as per standard health protocol.
  •  Travelers from Brazil, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, testing positive (either at the airport or subsequently during the home quarantine period or their contacts who turn positive) shall be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate (isolation) unit coordinated by the respective State Health Authorities. They would earmark specific facilities for such isolation and treatment and take necessary action to send the positive samples to the concerned Indian Labs.
    • If the report of the sequencing is consistent with the current strains circulating in the country, the ongoing treatment protocol, including home isolation/treatment at the facility level as per case severity, may be followed.
    • If the genomic sequencing indicates the presence of a new variant /strain of the virus, then the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit. While necessary treatment as per the existing protocol will be given, the patient shall be tested on the 14th day after having tested positive in the initial test. The patient will be kept in the is
    • olation facility till his sample is tested negative.

 

All the contacts* of travelers arriving from UK, South Africa, and Brazil who tests positive (either at the airport or subsequently during the home quarantine period) shall be subjected to institutional quarantine in separate quarantine centers and would be tested on the 7th day (or early if develop symptoms). Contacts testing positive shall be accordingly further followed as mentioned in Clause (xviii) above.

Information regarding any passenger covered within the scope of this SOP who has moved to another State will be immediately notified to the concerned State Health Authority.

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 travelers who have tested positive (during the home quarantine period) would be subjected to institutional quarantine in separate Quarantine Centres for 14 days and tested as per ICMR protocol.]

 

PLEASE NOTE

  • The individual States may consider (if required) additional requirements regarding testing, quarantine, and isolation as per their risk assessment.
  • Further, each State will be required to adequately publicize such additional requirements on their official websites well in advance to avoid inconvenience to the travelers.
  • The travelers destined to a specific States are also requested to refer to State specific official websites to be well informed about such additional requirements.”