New Travel Rule: India Scraps RT-PCR And 7-Day Home Quarantine Rule

The government of India has issued new guidelines for international travelers on the 10th of February 2022 that will come to effect from 14th February 2022 (0.01 Hrs IST). India’s move to further relax the travel restrictions comes in the wake of a deeper economic crisis. As the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic continues with regional variations, the guideline emphasized that India will continue to formulate travel guidelines on a risk-based approach.

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While the government will continue to monitor the nature and spread of infection in India and globally, cognizance is given to the fact that economic activities need to be taken up in an unhindered manner, the guideline stated.

Ministry of Health underlined the following changes under the fresh travel rules that supersede all guidelines issued on and after 20 January 2022:

  • No mandatory 72-hour report of RT-PCR for vaccinated travelers. Travelers can instead upload certificates that prove full primary Covid vaccination schedules from countries on a “reciprocal basis.”
  • Removal of the earlier guideline that required travelers to upload an RT-PCR test on Air Suvidha on the eighth day after arrival.
  • Removal of the mandatory seven-day home quarantine. All travelers will self-monitor their health for 14 days after their arrival instead.
  • Only 2 percent of the total passengers in the flight shall undergo random post-arrival testing at the airport on arrival. Unlike the earlier travel restrictions, travelers will be allowed to leave the airport after they submit their samples.
  • Children under five years of age are exempted from both pre-and post-arrival testing.
  • Pet coverage included
  • Removal of more countries from ‘at-risk’ categorization.

The ministry provided a list of 82 such countries. These include the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Switzerland, Australia, Mexico, and the Netherlands.

Checklist For Traveling To India:

  • Submit a self-declaration form online on the Air Suvidha portal before the scheduled travel, including the travel details of the last 14 days.
  • Upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report taken within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey OR a Certificate of COVID-19 vaccination.

Note: Keep in mind that fake vaccination certificates and fake Covid Test reports are liable for criminal prosecution.

What To Expect Upon Arrival In India?

  • Thermal screening would be carried out by the health officials at the airport.
  • The health officials will ask for the self-declaration Air Suvidha form, which the travelers must fill out before departure.
  • Random testing. As per the new guidelines, 2 percent of the total passengers in the flight shall undergo random post-arrival testing at the airport on arrival. They will submit the samples and shall be allowed to leave the airport.
  • All travelers will be asked to self-monitor their health for the next 14 days of arrival.

What To Expect If Travelers Test Positive At The Random Screening?

Even before testing positive for COVID-19, any traveler found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to a medical facility as per health protocol.

  • If travelers test positive, they shall be treated/isolated as per laid down standard protocol.
  • Travelers’ contacts shall be identified and managed as per laid down protocol.
  • The samples of the travelers will be further sent for genomic testing at the INSACOG laboratory network.

Contact Tracing: Who Is Identified As A Contact?

As per the guidelines, contacts of the suspect case OR travel who tests positive upon arrival are:

  • the co-passengers seated in the same row as the suspect case,
  • three rows in front and three rows behind the row where the suspect case was sitting,
  • along with identified Cabin Crew.

International travelers arriving through seaports/land ports will also have to undergo the same protocol as above, except that the facility for online registration through Air Suvidha is not available currently.

If you develop any signs and symptoms suggestive of COVID19 during your stay in India, immediately self-isolate and report to their nearest health facility or call the National helpline number (1075)/ State Helpline Number.