Thursday, September 03, 2020

Int’l passengers to get option of Covid test on arrival; those negative to be allowed to take connecting flights

New Delhi: Air travellers will soon not have to worry about the most nagging question in this pandemic: “Can I take a connecting domestic flight after reaching India on a Vande Bharat Mission flight or after flying in from an air bubble country without being being quarantined at the port of arrival?”
The government on Wednesday allowed RT-PCR testing for Covid at the first port of arrival in India on a pilot basis so that people testing negative can take connecting flights. This will benefit those passengers who could not get a Covid test done 96 hours before taking their flight to India.
Delhi, Mumbai and some other airports are going to have this facility up and running soon. Mumbai Airport confirmed it will be a part of this pilot project and has made all arrangements. Aviation ministry joint secretary Usha Padhee Wednesday issued an order titled “RT-PCR testing at the entry airport for the arriving international transfer passengers” which lays down guidelines for conducting these tests. Those testing negative will be allowed to take connecting domestic flights without being quarantined at the airport of arrival in India.
Once the pilot project is successful, the same protocol will be extended to other passengers who want to get exemption from paid quarantine at the first port of arrival.
Airport operators will need to create a sample collection and result waiting lounge for such passengers. “Airports shall provide options to passengers to do online booking of the RT- PCR test.… Once passengers arrive at the entry airport, airport operator should lay down a well- defined flow for such passengers at their respective arrival terminals…,” the order says.
Passport of the passenger tested will be retained at the sample collection cum waiting lounge till the test results are available, which will take 1.5-2.5 hours for RT-PCR by GeneXpert and 6-7 hours for RT-PCR by other methods. “The lounge will provide cashless options for payments with regard to testing and (other) amenities. No passenger should be able to make an unauthorised exit. This will be done on pilot basis,” the order says.
02/09/20 Saurrabh Sinha/Times of India
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