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India-bound passengers from the UAE have to abide with the latest safety protocols Image Credit:

Dubai: India has made negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report within 72 hours of departure and more safety regulations mandatory for passengers from UK, Europe and Middle East.

Passengers from these countries will be mandatorily subjected to self-paid confirmatory molecular tests on arrival at the Indian airports concerned (port of entry), Indian ministries of health and civil aviation have announced.

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When will this come into effect?

The latest safety protocols under the new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that are also applicable to all passengers from the UAE to India came into effect from Tuesday, February 23.

Why has India revised rules?

The new guidelines have been issued to reduce the risk of importation of mutant strains of COVID-19.

They also aim to segregate travellers arriving from/transiting through UK, Brazil and South Africa (during past 14 days) in-flight or while disembarking to facilitate the authorities to follow the due protocol in respect of these travellers.

As per the new SOP, the entry airports for flight services would be decided by Ministry of Civil Aviation based on the bilateral/ Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) flights.

What are the pre-boarding procedures?

All international travellers coming, transiting through flights originating from United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East must submit self-declaration form (SDF) for COVID-19 on the Air Suvidha section of New Delhi Airport’s website.

They are also required to declare their travel history of past 14 days and upload the negative RT-PCR test report.

Each passenger shall also submit a declaration with respect to authenticity of the report and will be liable for criminal prosecution, if found otherwise, the SOP stated.

Before they are allowed to undertake the journey, they should also give an undertaking on the portal or otherwise to Ministry of Civil Aviation, through airlines concerned, 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.

Passengers may also be able to access online booking facility for on arrival molecular testing through Air Suvidha.

What are the new steps in Self-Declaration Form?

While filling SDF, apart from providing all other information required in the SDF, these passengers need to follow the steps mentioned below.

A. Mention whether they plan to disembark at the arrival airport or take further flights to reach their final destination in India.

B. Based on this selection, the receipt of SDF (dispatched online to the transiting travellers) will display “T” (Transit) in easily readable and bigger font than other text.

C. The passengers will need to display this receipt to state authority / government officials at the airport for segregation.

What are the boarding procedures ?

Airlines have been told to allow boarding only those passengers who have filled in the SDF on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report.

At the time of boarding the flight, only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to board after thermal screening.

All passengers shall be advised to download Aarogya Setu app on their mobile devices.

What are the on-arrival procedures?

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.

The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to medical facility as per health protocol.

What are the additional procedures?

All travellers from Europe and Middle East other than those in flights originating from Brazil, South Africa and UK who have to exit the destination airport or take connecting flights to their final domestic destination should follow the following steps.

  • A: Shall give samples at the designated area and exit the airport.
  • B: The state authorities/airport operators concerned will collect and convey the test report to the traveller.
  • C: If the test report is negative, they will be advised to self-monitor their health for 14 days.
  • D: If the test report is positive, they will undergo treatment as per standard health protocol.

Entry made in the SDF regarding telephone number and address would be reconfirmed.

What else will the airports do?

Airports can provide options to the passengers to do online booking of the confirmatory molecular test through respective website (Air Suvidha portal) or other appropriate platforms as well as to do offline booking.

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 new SOP stated.

The airport authority shall ensure streamlining of the systems for testing at the concerned airports to ensure seamless sampling, testing, and waiting 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

As far as possible digital payment facilities should be ensured, the SOP stated.

The state and union territory government governments have been told to set up helpdesks at airports concerned to facilitate implementation of the new SOP.

Who gets exemption for pre-departure negative RT-PCR?

Arrival in India without a negative RT-PCR report shall be allowed only for those traveling to India in the exigency of death in the family.

If they wish to seek such exemption, they shall apply to the online portal of Air Suvidha through the New Delhi Airport’s website at least 72 hours before boarding.

The decision taken by the government as communicated on the online portal will be final, according to the SOP.

How about passengers on short stay?

International travellers on short stay (less than 14 days) and who have tested negative and remain symptom free, shall undergo all the procedures as above and shall be permitted to leave India under proper intimation to their District/State health authorities, subject to them fulfilling the requirement of the airlines and destination country.