Dubai: A negative COVID-19 RT-PCR (reverse transcript-polymerase chain reaction) test result has been made mandatory for international passengers travelling to the south Indian state of Karnataka.
“For all passengers travelling from international destinations to Karnataka, a valid negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test [result], issued within 72 hours before departure, is required,” Air India Express tweeted on Thursday. Those who fail to produce the negative test certificate would be subjected to mandatory RT-PCR test for COVID-19 on arrival at the airport, the airline added.
Airline sources said Karnataka on Wednesday updated the travel rules in the wake of the new variant of coronavirus found in the United Kingdom.
A circular issued by the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare Service, a copy of which has been obtained by Gulf News, stated: “In view of a new variant of SARS CoV 2 virus, [variant under investigation (VUI)-20212/01] reported by the government of the UK, the World Health Organisation, the Government of India, and the Government of Karnataka have initiated measures to strengthen surveillance of international passengers who have travelled to India from or transited through UK in the past four weeks.” The circular said the new regulation was applicable to all international returnees arriving from any country to Karnataka through airports/seaports and shall be implemented with immediate effect from the date of issue of the circular.
“All international passengers arriving in Karnataka from any country shall have COVID negative certificate (issued within 72 hours from time of departure). Otherwise, they will be mandatorily subjected to RT-PCR test for COVID-19 at the port of entry,” the circular stated.
Free testing option
The updated rules will be implemented at Bengaluru and Mangaluru international airports and at seaports in Mangaluru and Karwar. “Authorities at all the ports shall take necessary measures to implement this with immediate effect, in association with jurisdictional DHOs,” the circular said. It clarified that the facility for RT-PCR testing or swab collection shall be made available at the port of entry. “Passengers who have given swab samples for tests shall be advised strict home quarantine till receipt of the lab report. The passengers can opt for free RT-PCR testing by the government or express test at the airport at their own expenses,” added the circular.
Karnataka is the second state in India to announce changes in COVID-19 related travel rules in the wake of the new strain of the virus. Earlier, the western Indian state of Maharashtra had made it mandatory for all travellers from the UK, Europe and Middle East to undergo 14 days’ mandatory quarantine as a precaution. These passengers have to spend the first seven days under institutional quarantine, followed by seven more days of quarantine at home.
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Authorities have also clarified that passengers originating from or transiting through the UK will not be permitted to enter India between December 23 and December 31. Transit passengers originating from the UK, if any, will also have to undergo 14 days of institutional quarantine.
The Indian states of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal had already made it mandatory for international passengers to present a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test report upon arrival.