Dubai: A negative reverse transcript-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) COVID-19 test report has been made mandatory for international passengers, including those arriving from the UAE, to some Indian states, according to the Indian Consulate in Dubai and Air India Express (AIE).
In a tweet posted on Sunday, AIE alerted passengers travelling from Dubai and Sharjah to India that COVID-19 PCR test is necessary for passengers travelling to those Indian destinations that have made the test report mandatory for entry. All passengers flying out of Abu Dhabi to any destination are already required to carry the same report.
When contacted, Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai, confirmed to Gulf News that some Indian states have started making a RT-PCR negative report mandatory for international passengers seeing entry into those states.
“Currently, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have made it mandatory,” said Dr Puri.
“It is still optional for other Indian states. They [Tamil Nadu and West Bengal] have informed us that if passengers have a negative PCR test report with them, they will be exempted from paid institutional quarantine for a week.”
With more than 90,000 fresh cases reported on Saturday, the total number of coronavirus cases have crossed 4.1 million in India.
Neeraj Agrawal, Consul for Press, Information and Culture at the Consulate in Dubai, said RT-PCR test on arrival is already mandatory for passengers to Jammu and Kashmir.
Kerala was the first state to make pre-flight COVID 19 tests mandatory for all expats wanting to return from abroad in June. However, the state soon relaxed the rules, following protests from expat groups citing difficulties in getting the test done at that point of time.
Though pre-departure RT-PCR test is still optional for states other than Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, Dr Puri said it is highly advisable for all passengers to be tested and carry a negative COVID-19 test result along for international travel.
Agrawal explained that passengers with the report will be able to exit the airports quickly and can reduce the risk of exposure by minimising the time spent for immigration clearance and baggage collection etc.
Air Suvidha still mandatory
Those wishing to seek exemption from paid institutional quarantine in India with the negative COVID test result must submit the exemption form on the portal of the New Delhi Airport under the Air Suvidha initiative for self-reporting.
Submitting the self-declaration form to declare their current health status on the same portal prior to boarding their flights from the UAE is still mandatory for all passengers to India, clarified Dr Puri.
This has to be done regardless of the airport to which they are flying.
According to the information posted on the portal, the ‘Exemption Request’ form can be filled and submitted online with supporting documents 72 hours before boarding the flight.
Passengers can apply online to seek exemption from mandatory institutional quarantine under five categories including those who are submitting a negative RT-PCR test result.
Eligible for home quarantine
The other categories of international flyers exempted from paid institutional quarantine are pregnant women, those who are flying due to a death in the family or serious illness and parents accompanied by children below ten years.
“Passengers seeking exemption from mandatory institutional quarantine can apply online providing valid documents. Upon submission of the form, an acknowledgement with a unique reference number will be sent to the applicant’s registered email ID,” the portal stated.
Regarding the documents for the RT-PCR test, it said the test taken within 92 hours of departure from the port of origin is valid upon arrival in India.
The exemption form can be filled after taking the test and up to 72 hours before departure. In case the report is not available in time, the form can be filled with proof of test and on arrival passengers are expected to show a COVID-19 negative certificate along with exemption approval.
“Passengers with COVID-19 negative certificate can travel on public transport, including domestic flights, to reach their final destinations,” the portal added.