Omicron protocol: RT-PCR must for all arrivals from at risk countries starting Dec 1; 5% from not at risk countries

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NEW DELHI: All international passengers, except those under five years of age, flying into India from Covid at risk countries will have to undergo RT-PCR testing on arrival starting 12.01 am (IST) on December 1, 2021. This will include those transiting from these places too. Those testing negative will need to be home quarantined for seven days and then re-test on the eighth day. If negative, then they will need to monitor their health for seven days.
Those testing positive will be admitted to a separate isolation facility and their sample will be sent for genomic testing. They will be discharged if found not infected with the Omicron variant. Those found infected with this new variant, will be kept in “strict isolation” and treated till they test negative.
The Union health ministry on Sunday issued a new protocol for international arrivals in wake of the new variant found in southern Africa, Hong Kong, and some other countries to prevent its spread here. This adds to the existing norms like a negative report from an RT-PCR test done within 72 hours of flying to India and filing a self-declaration form. To be sure, the government will keep updating the list of at-risk countries as the situation evolves.
5 per cent of passengers flying in from non at-risk countries will also be tested on arrival on a random basis. “The cost of testing of such passengers shall be borne by the aviation ministry,” the order says. Their samples will also be sent for genomic testing and they will be treated as per “standard protocol.”
Children under five years of age continue to be exempt from both pre and post-arrival testing if they are asymptomatic.
“Contacts” of positive cases from at-risk countries — their co-passengers seated in the same row and three rows in front and behind their row and identified cabin crew — will be kept under institutional or home quarantine under strict monitoring of state government.
As of November 26, the health ministry’s list of at-risk countries includes countries in Europe including UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel.

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