Passengers travelling from the United Kingdom to India from January 8 to 31 will now be subjected to mandatory self-paid RT-PCR test at the airport, the Health Ministry said on Saturday.
Flight services between the two countries were suspended on December 22 in the wake of a more infectious coronavirus strain found in UK's population. The services will resume on January 6. This strain has so far been detected in over 29 travellers in India.
According to the standard operating procedure issued by the health ministry, those travelling between January 8 and 31, would be mandatorily subjected to self-paid RT-PCR tests on arrival at the Indian airports concerned.
"Adequate arrangements for passengers waiting for their RT-PCR test as well as test results duly following effective isolation may also be made at the airports in conjunction with the airport authorities," the guidelines added.
Passengers will have to submit self-declaration form on the online portal, www.newdelhiairport.in, at least 72 hours before the travel and also carry negative RT-PCR test with them. Airlines are tasked with ensuring availability of negative test before allowing the passenger on board.
Passengers who test positive at the airport will be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in an isolation unit coordinated by the State Health Authorities. They would earmark specific facilities for such isolation and treatment and take necessary action to send the positive samples for genome sequencing.
After genome sequencing, if the report is consistent with the current virus genome circulating in the country, the ongoing treatment protocol including home isolation or treatment will be followed.
"If the genomic sequencing indicates the presence of new variant of SARS-CoV-2 then the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit. The patient shall be tested on 14th day, after having tested positive in the initial test. The patient will be kept in the isolation facility till his sample is tested negative," the SOP stated.
Those who are found negative on testing with RT-PCR at the airport would be advised quarantine at home for 14 days and regularly followed up by the concerned State and District Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme.
The central government on Friday said that four more cases of the mutant Covid UK strain have been detected in the country, taking the total tally of such cases to 29 so far. They are kept in physical isolation in health facilities.
Notably, the new UK variant has already been reported by Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.
From November 25 to December 23 midnight, about 33,000 passengers disembarked at various Indian airports from the UK. All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by states and UTs to RT-PCR tests.