Updated: January 30, 2021 10:53:54 am
India has extended the restrictions on flights to and from the United Kingdom till February 14, allowing airlines to operate only 30 weekly flights between the two countries. Earlier, the restrictions, which were imposed since January 8, were in place till January 23.
Why did the government impose restrictions on UK flights?
Last month, the Indian government decided to suspend all flights from the UK — and these were partially resumed January 8 onward. This was done in light of a mutated strain of the novel coronavirus, which originated in the UK and spread to over two dozen countries at the time, including in India. Now, after assessing the situation pertaining to this Covid-19 variant, the government has decided to further extend the restrictions on the number of flights from the UK till February 14.
Currently, Indian airlines Air India and Vistara, in addition to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, are operating flights between the two countries. The two British carriers have been notified by the DGCA about the extension and have been asked to file their schedules under the existing India-UK air bubble with the regulator for approval.
What do passengers arriving from the UK need to do?
The travel guidelines for passengers remain the same. In line with the guidelines for other international arrivals, all inbound passengers from the UK will have to submit a self-declaration on the online portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) at least 72 hours before the scheduled travel. All passengers also need to carry a negative RT-PCR test report, for which the test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to departure. Airlines have been asked to ensure every passenger is carrying the negative test report prior to allowing them to board the flight.
Upon arrival at Indian airports, all passengers coming in from the UK would be mandatorily subjected to self-paid RT-PCR tests. This means that any passenger taking a connecting flight via one of the international hubs, such as Dubai, Doha, etc, would also be subject to mandatory testing. For the passengers who await their test results at Indian airports, adequate arrangements for isolation have been made.
There are some state government guidelines that are applicable to passengers as well. For example, the Delhi government has said all passengers arriving from the UK must undergo mandatory institutional quarantine upon arrival, even if they are carrying negative certificates.
What happens if a passenger tests positive for Covid-19 upon arrival?
Passengers testing positive shall be moved in to an institutional facility in a separate (isolation) unit coordinated by the respective State Health Authorities. They would earmark specific facilities for such isolation and treatment, and take necessary action to send the positive samples to Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Labs. If the test report reveals that the Covid-19 variant is not the new one, then the ongoing treatment protocol, including home isolation or treatment at the facility as per case severity, will be followed. If the test report reveals that a passenger has tested positive for the new variant, then the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit.
While necessary treatment as per the existing protocol will be given, the patient will be tested on the 14th day, after having tested positive in the initial test. The patient will be kept in the isolation facility till their sample is tested negative.
What happens in case one has traveled next to a Covid-19 positive passenger?
For passengers who test positive upon arrival, all their contacts will be subject to institutional quarantine and will be tested as per ICMR guidelines. For this purpose, the contacts will include co-passengers seated in the same row, three rows in front and three rows behind along with identified cabin crew.
The state-wise passenger manifest of flights from the UK landing at Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai airports for the said period shall be conveyed by the Bureau of Immigration to state governments and/or the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).
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