COVID Alert: Random Testing Of International Travellers From December 24, Government Issues Guidelines

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New Delhi, 22nd December 2022: The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has issued ‘Guidelines for International Arrivals’ in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and updated the same from time to time. The present guidelines are being revised in light of the increasing trajectory of COVID-19 cases being noted in some countries across the world.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “Globally, the number of new cases of COVID-19 continues to remain alarmingly high, with around 5.9 lakh daily new cases reported on average during the week ending on 19th December 2022. The spike in the trajectory of COVID-19 is particularly concerning with respect to Japan, United States of America (USA), South Korea, Brazil, France and China where cases are increasing in a sustained manner.”

The new protocols will be complied with by international travellers as well as points of entry (airports, seaports and land border) and shall be valid w.e.f. 24th December 2022 (10.00 Hrs IST) till further orders.

A.1. Planning for Travel

i. All travellers should preferably be fully vaccinated as per the approved primary schedule of vaccination against COVID-19 in their Country.

A.2. During Travel

ii. In-flight announcement about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic including precautionary measures to be followed (preferable use of masks and following physical distancing) shall be made in flights/travel and at all

points of entry.

iii. Any passenger having symptoms of COVID-19 during travel shall be isolated as per standard protocol i.e. the said passenger should be wearing mask, isolated and segregated from other passengers in flight/travel and shifted to an isolation facility subsequently for follow up treatment.

A.3. On arrival

iv. De-boarding should be done ensuring physical distancing.

v. Thermal screening should be done in respect of all the passengers by the health officials present at the point of entry.

vi. The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated, taken to a designated medical facility as per health protocol (as above).

vii. The following protocol post arrival shall also be followed:

a) A sub-section (2% of the total passengers* in the flight) shall undergo random post arrival testing at the airport on arrival.

b) Such travellers in each flight shall be identified by the concerned airlines (preferably from different countries). They will submit the samples and shall be allowed to leave the airport thereafter.

c) If such travellers’ samples are tested positive, their samples should be further sent for genomic testing at INSACOG laboratory network.

d) They shall be treated/isolated as per laid down standard protocol.

viii. All travellers should self-monitor their health post arrival also shall report to their nearest health facility or call National helpline number (1075)/ State Helpline Number in case they have any symptoms suggestive.

* Children under 12 years of age are exempted from post-arrival random testing. However, if found symptomatic for COVID-19 on arrival or during the period of self-monitoring period, they shall undergo testing and treated as per laid down protocol.

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