India to Revise Covid-19 Protocol for International Arrivals

India has reviewed the COVID-19 entry protocol due to the emergence of a new coronavirus variant, Omicron. The new guidelines will become effective on 1st December 2021.

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In mid-November, India has reopened its borders to fully vaccinated international visitors flying on regular flights. Now, Union Health Ministry has revised coronavirus-related guidelines for international visitors arriving in India due to the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant, Omicron. The new guidelines will become effective from December 1st, 2021 superseding the previous ones.

Revised Coronavirus Guidelines

All travelers will be required to complete and submit a self-declaration form before the intended travel. They will also need to provide details of the last 14 days before their trip to India and upload a negative RT-PCR test 72 hours before departure.  The test results and travel details covering the last 2 weeks must be submitted on the Air Suvidha platform

Both pre- and post-arrival testing do not apply to children under 5 years of age. Nevertheless, if they are COVID-19 symptomatic upon arrival or during home quarantine, they are subject to testing and obeying the coronavirus protocol.

Those who plan to enter India by sea or land need to undergo the same protocol. However, they are exempt from online registration as it is currently available only for air passengers.

Arrivals from At-Risk Countries

Passengers departing from countries classified at-risk  will be also subject to RT-PCR testing upon arrival in India. In case of a negative result, they will need to undergo a 7-day home quarantine. Re-testing is to take place on the 8th day. If tested negatively, travelers are to self-monitor themselves for the next 7 days. If tested positive, their samples need to be sent further for genomic testing. 

The current at-risk countries list includes:

  • European countries
  • the UK
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Mauritius
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Hong Kong
  • Bangladesh
  • New Zealand
  • Botswana
  • Zimbabwe
  • Israel

Travelers coming from countries other than those classified as at-risk will be able to leave the airport without additional testing on arrival. However, they need to self-monitor their health for 2 weeks. 5% of those travelers will be tested randomly at one of the Indian airports upon arrival.

Omicron in India

For the time being, no cases of the new coronavirus variant have been recorded in India. The new variant was first reported in South Africa on Nov. 24th. India, similarly like the majority of the countries in the world, has been concerned about the Omicron as the currently available COVID-19 vaccines may have not sufficient efficacy to the newly discovered variant.

This year, India did an uphill battle with the Delta variant that took its toll at the turn of April and May. After over a 20-month lockdown, the country announced the plans of the resumption of scheduled international commercial fights from Dec. 15th. Now, due to the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant, the country is going to review this decision according to the evolving coronavirus scenario in the world.

e-Visa to India

The Indian government has announced the free issuance of tourist visas for the first 500,000 travelers who will visit India. The Indian authorities wanted this way to encourage international visitors and recover the tourism economy after the prolonging lockdown.

As soon as the Indian borders became reopened, the country restored tourist visas. The electronic tourist visa to India is issued as a multiple-entry visa. Its holder can enter India as many times as needed while staying up to 90 days in total. e-Visa is valid for 1 year from the date of its issuance. Travelers can use it for all kinds of tourism purposes.

Katarzyna Żyła

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