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Omicron variant: Govt imposes new rules for arrivals from ‘at-risk’ nations

Written by Shankhyaneel Sarkar | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

The government on Sunday said that international arrivals will now have to upload their 14-day travel history and valid negative RT-PCR test reports on Air Suvidha portal before embarking on their journey to India amid threats of Covid’s omicron variant looming large.

The RT-PCR test report should not be more than 72 hours old.

The government in its order also said that passengers travelling from countries that are categorised as ‘at-risk’ will have to undergo testing on arrival. If the passengers test positive, their samples will be sent to INSACOG for genomic sequencing and they will be sent to institutional quarantine. If they test negative, they will be asked to remain in home quarantine for seven days following which they will take a test on the 8th day and continue monitoring their health for the next 7 days.

The government also said that 5% of the passengers not travelling from the at-risk nations will also be subjected to random testing. The tests for passengers from ‘at-risk’ nations will be self-paid while the cost of the random tests will be borne by the civil aviation ministry.

The countries assigned at-risk by the government are – South Africa, China, the United Kingdom, European countries, Bangladesh, Brazil, Botswana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Singapore and Israel.

The government earlier held meetings with top officials and the health ministry over the omicron variant. The decision to resume regular international flight services from December 15 will be reviewed in the changed situation, the government said.

Omicron, which was first found in southern African nations has been detected in several European nations and has led to travel bans and imposition of fresh restrictions on several parts of the world.

The variant is feared to be more contagious than the previous variants and experts also fear if it may affect the ability of the vaccines against Covid-19.

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