18 Feb 2021: Guidelines issued for international travelers as new coronavirus strains emerge
The Indian government has issued fresh guidelines for all incoming international passengers, in wake of new coronavirus strains surfacing in the country.
Reportedly, four people were found to be infected with the South African strain of the virus and one contracted the Brazilian strain. Both these strains are highly-infectious.
Further, the United Kingdom strain of coronavirus has so far infected 187 people.
Rules: Negative coronavirus report mandatory for travelers
Under the new guidelines revealed on Wednesday, all travelers, except those boarding flights originating in the UK, Middle East, and Europe, will have to submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal before beginning their journey.
It is mandatory to upload a negative coronavirus RT-PCR report. The test should have been done 72 hours before their scheduled travel, the guidelines said.
Exception: Exception will be made for those traveling due to tragedy
The new rules will come into effect from February 23. It was underlined that passengers can not carry negative RT-PCR reports if they are traveling because of a death in family.
In this case, "they shall apply to the online portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) at least 72 hours before boarding."
"The decision taken by the government as communicated on the online portal will be final," the rules said.
Details: Coronavirus-necessitated precautions have to be strictly adhered to
The guidelines spoke about following coronavirus-appropriate behavior like wearing masks and honoring distancing. Social distancing has to be strictly followed during disembarking.
A thermal screening of all passengers will be conducted after arrival at the airport. Those who are found symptomatic have to be immediately isolated and taken to a health facility.
All passengers will be required to monitor their health for 14 days.
Seaports: Rules apply to those coming through seaports
The same rules apply to international passengers coming through seaports/land ports.
"Such travelers will have to submit self-declaration form to the concerned authorities of Government of India at seaports/land ports on arrival, (sic)" the guidelines read.
Those coming/transiting from UK, Europe, and South Africa have to fill self-declaration forms, furnish negative RT-PCR test reports, and inform about their travel history in the past 14 days.
Fact: A flow chart was also released
Statement: Existing vaccines work against UK variant: Dr. Bhargava
As the new strains triggered worries, Dr. Balram Bhargava, ICMR Chief, asserted that existing vaccines are efficient against the UK strain of coronavirus. The experiments to judge its efficacy against Brazilian and South African strains were underway.
"ICMR-NIV is attempting to isolate and culture the South African variant of SARS-CoV-2, while the Brazil variant of SARS-CoV-2 has been isolated and cultured at ICMR-NIV-Pune," he said.
Cases: India's coronavirus tally is nearing 11 million
The new guidelines came on the back of an alarming rise in cases in Maharashtra. On Wednesday, 4,787 fresh COVID-19 cases were detected in the state, the highest this year.
The total number of infections there now stands at 20,76,093 with 51,631 succumbing to coronavirus-related complications.
India on Wednesday reported over 12,000 new cases, taking the nationwide tally to 10.95 million cases.