The Centre on Wednesday announced that the international transfer passengers will get an option of undergoing a COVID-19 test on arrival at airports. The Ministry of Civil Aviation in an order said that “it has been decided to allow for RT-PCR testing at the entry airport also, on a pilot basis”.
“As per the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) guidelines…international arriving passengers having RT-PCR negative report would be exempted from institutional quarantine. Accordingly, Ministry of Civil Aviation…has allowed for onward air journey of international arriving passengers, when an exemption from institutional quarantine is granted by the State authorities (of the entry airport) on the basis of a negative RT-PCR test report for which test was conducted within 96 hours prior to undertaking the journey,” read the statement.
“However, as per the extant guidelines, there is no provision for RT-PCR testing at the entry airport itself, if the passenger could not get the same done within 96 hours prior to undertaking the journey from abroad. To facilitate such transfer passengers, it has now been decided to allow for RT-PCR testing at the entry airport also, on a pilot basis,” it added.
RT-PCR TESTING AT THE ENTRY AIRPORT FOR THE ARRIVING INTERNATIONAL TRANSFER PASSENGERS:
1. Guidelines below apply for international passengers, who arrive at an entry airport in India without RT-PCR Negative certificate and need to take a connecting flight to domestic destinations in India.
2. Passengers will have an option of getting an RT-PCR (including GeneXpert) testing done at the entry airport and if the RT-PCR test results into a RT-PCR negative report. the passenger will be permitted to take a connecting flight to other domestic destinations in India without needing to be quarantined at the city of entry airport.
3. Airport Operator will create Sample Collection cum Waiting Lounge (Waiting Lounge’)–a facility for RT-PCR testing and sample collection at the airport along with a Waiting Lounge. Facility for testing and sample collection should be in strict compliance with the protocols established by ICMR and NABL in this regard. One representative of State authorities (of entry airport) will also be present in the Waiting lounge
4. Airports shall provide options to the passengers to do online booking of the RT-PCR test through respective websites or other appropriate online platforms Once passengers arrive at the entry airport, Airport Operator should lay down a well-defined flow for such passengers at their respective Arrival Terminals leading to the Waiting Lounges and to the exit from the terminal. Proper escort to be ensured for the passenger from a Helpdesk set up by the Airport Operator after the Customs inspection area to the Waiting Lounge
5. Process of sample collection and testing should be in strict compliance with the protocols established by ICMR and NABL in this regard. Passport of the passenger will be retained by the State authority at the Sample Collection cum Waiting Lounge till the Test results are available. Once the test result is available, Waiting Lounge will intimate the passenger of the same.
6. If the result is negative, the passenger will be stamped ‘RT-PCR negative’ and ‘State Quarantined till [applicable dater on the hand by the State Authority available at the Waiting lounge, will be handed over his/her passport. and will be permitted to exit the Waiting Lounge and proceed to the Departures to catch the connecting flight.
7. If the result is positive. the passenger will be processed in line with applicable ICMR protocols by the State authorities.
8. Waiting Lounge for the passengers should follow all sanitization and social distancing related guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from time to time. The Waiting Lounge should be located away from the Operational area but should be sterile with no access to any unauthorized personnel. It should provide necessary amenities to the passengers like Wifi, F&B options. washrooms etc.
9. The test results will take anywhere between 1.5-2.5 hours for RT-PCR by GeneXpert and 6 -7 hours for RT-PCR by other methods. Hence at the Sample Collection cum Waiting Lounge, Airport Operator shall provide to the passengers option to either stay at the Waiting Lounge awaiting the test results or to proceed to designated Hotel(s) in order to isolate themselves till the Test results are available. The Lounge will provide to the passengers cashless options for making payments with regard to testing and various amenities etc.
10. No passenger should be able to make an unauthorized exit.
11. This will be done on a pilot basis. Once the guidelines are tested, such facilities can be extended to other passengers who are interested to obtain RT-PCR testing facilities at the first port of landing to get an exemption from institutional quarantine, etc. These guidelines will be reviewed periodically for improvements.