At Airports, New Omicron Travel Rules – PCR Tests, Quarantine: 10 Points


Omicron: Maharashtra has enforced new rules for passengers from ‘at risk’ countries (File)

New Delhi:
Starting today, airports across the country have enforced strict quarantine and testing rules for international passengers, particularly for those from ‘at risk’ countries, amid growing concern over the entry and spread of the Omicron Covid strain.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. At Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport all international arrivals from ‘at risk’ countries are being tested for COVID-19, with a negative result needed to leave the airport. They must continue to follow home quarantine for a week, after which they must take another PCR test to confirm the negative status.

  2. Delhi airport said 1,013 passengers from four ‘at risk’ flights had “successfully completed formalities due to availability of rapid PCR (and) RT-PCR tests”. However, reports suggest lengthy wait times for all passengers, with those opting for the rapid tests (Rs 3,900 per test) having to wait between 2.5 and three hours, and those taking the PCR tests (Rs 500 per test) stuck at the airport for up to six hours.

  3. At Mumbai airport, all international passengers from ‘at-risk’ countries will undergo mandatory seven-day institutional quarantine, during which time they must take three RT-PCR tests – on the second, fourth and seventh days after arrival. They will be allowed to leave only after returning negative test results.

  4. Two per cent of passengers (selected at random) from countries not deemed ‘at risk’ list will be tested for COVID-19 on arrival. If these are negative they can leave the airport. However, all passengers from countries not ‘at risk’ must submit to seven days of home quarantine as an additional safety measure.

  5. The order mandating institutional quarantine (at the passenger’s expense) for arrivals from ‘at risk’ nations was released late last night. Institutional quarantine is needed, the state has said, because tests conducted immediately after arrival often return false negative results. Passengers arriving last night (immediately after the order) were given Covid tests and allowed to leave after a negative result.

  6. This morning the Maharashtra Health Department said six passengers arriving from ‘at risk’ countries had already tested Covid positive. All six are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and their samples have been sent for genome sequencing. Contact tracing is underway, the Health Department said.

  7. All passengers from ‘at risk’ countries landing at Bengaluru airport must take a COVID-19 test and will not be allowed to leave unless it is negative. If negative, they must still follow home quarantine for seven days and take another test on the eighth. A second negative result will require self-monitoring of their health for the next seven days.

  8. In Chennai too, all passengers from ‘at risk’ nations are being tested and can only leave if they return a negative result. As in Mumbai, only two per cent of passengers from other countries are being tested. They can leave without waiting for the results. So far, 88 international passengers have been tested and all have returned negative results.

  9. As on November 26, ‘at risk’ countries are those in Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel. Of these nations, some European countries (including the UK, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands) South Africa, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong have confirmed Omicron cases, as does Japan.

  10. Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has said the Omicron variant – which has over 50 mutations, is considered highly transmissible and poses a “very high” global risk, according to the World Health Organization – is not yet in India, but a senior ICMR doctor told NDTV the strain is likely already here.

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