Random testing of 2% of international passengers at airports as India revises COVID guidelines

Representational image. News18

New Delhi: The Centre on Thursday said that two per cent of passengers arriving on each international flight will be subject to random coronavirus tests from 24 December, as it issued revised guidelines for international travellers amid a rise in cases in China, US, South Korea and other countries.

The Union health ministry has written to the civil aviation ministry in this regard amid an increase in coronavirus cases in many countries.

Here are the revised guidelines:

  • Such travellers in each flight shall be identified by the concerned airlines (preferably from different countries), the letter said, adding that after submitting the sample passengers shall be allowed to leave the airport” Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
  • Following random testing, if anybody is found COVID-positive, the sample should be sent for genomic testing at the designated INSACOG laboratory network, Bhushan wrote in a letter to his civil aviation ministry counterpart, Rajiv Bansal.
  • A copy of the positive report shall be shared with Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme at shoc.idsp@ncdc.gov.in by the concerned testing laboratory (besides sharing with the APHOS) to be in turn shared with the concerned state or Union Territory for further follow-up action, Bhushan said.
  • According to the guidelines, all travellers should preferably be fully vaccinated as per the approved primary schedule of vaccination against COVID-19 in their country.
  • In-flight announcements about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic including precautionary measures to be followed (preferable use of masks and following physical distancing) shall be made on flights/travel and at all points of entry.
  • 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.
  • Thermal screening should be done in respect of all the passengers by the health officials present at the point of entry, the guidelines said.
  • The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening will be immediately isolated, taken to a designated medical facility as per health protocol (as above).
  • All travellers should self-monitor their health post-arrival and also shall report to their nearest health facility or call the 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 treatment as per laid guidelines.

Bhushan also said that as a result of its sustained efforts and focus on the five-fold strategy of test-track-treat-vaccination and adherence to COVID-appropriate behaviour, India has been able to effectively restrict the spread of COVID-19 transmission in the country so far.

These post-arrival protocols were also issued by the health ministry separately in its Guidelines for International Arrivals (in supersession of guidelines issued on the subject on November 21 2022).

With inputs from PTI

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