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Thursday, 18 February, 2021, 10 : 30 AM [IST]

India release new SOPs for international passengers to contain spread of new strains

The government on Wednesday issued new standard operating procedures (SOPs) in which it has notified separate norms for international flights originating from United Kingdom (UK), Europe and Middle East with an aim to segregate travellers from Brazil, the UK and South Africa due to new strain of covid-19 which has been on rise in these countries, reports Rhik Kundu in Mint.

The new SOPs by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Civil Aviation, which will come into effect from February 23, mandates airlines to identify international travellers arriving from/transiting through the UK, Brazil and South Africa during past 14 days and segregate them in-flight or while disembarking to facilitate the authorities to follow the due protocol in respect of these travellers.

"All the travellers arriving from/transiting through flights originating in the United Kingdom, Europe or Middle East shall be mandatorily subjected to self-paid confirmatory molecular tests on arrival at the Indian airports concerned (port of entry). Entry made in the SDF (self-declaration form) regarding telephone number and address would be reconfirmed," according to the new guidelines.

A copy of the new guidelines has been reviewed by Mint.

"Adequate arrangements for passengers waiting for their confirmatory molecular test as well as test results duly following effective isolation may also be made at the airports in conjunction with the airport authorities," it said.

"The airport authority shall ensure streamlining of the systems for testing at the concerned airports to ensure seamless sampling, testing, and waiting arrangements to avoid crowding and inconvenience to passengers. Once passengers arrive at the entry airport, Airport Operators 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," it added.

As things stand, regular commercial international flight operations remain suspended. International flights are allowed to operate between countries that have bilateral agreements or air bubble agreements to operate flights between them. At present India has such agreements with at least 24 countries which include the UK but excludes Brazil and South Africa, which means there are no direct flights between the countries.

The new SOPs aim to contain the new mutant strains of covid-19 originating from Brazil, South Africa and UK and have consequently entered the country through international air passengers. (Source: Mint)

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