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Fresh guidelines issued to travellers as new COVID-19 strains found in India

The new rules apply to all except those from the UK, Europe and Middle East

HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/INDIA-FLIGHTS [File] Passengers with face masks at the Mumbai International Airport | Reuters

After new and highly infectious strains of COVID-19—South African and Brazilian strains—were detected in India, the health ministry issued a fresh set of guidelines for international travellers coming into the country. The ministry said that the new rules apply to all passengers, except those from the UK, Europe and Middle East.

The new guidelines state that only passengers who test negative in RT-PCR tests 72 hours ahead of departure will be allowed to board the aircraft. Passengers who are travelling because of a death in the family will be exempted from these rules.

The healthy ministry, in a tweet late on Wednesday, said that passengers must make sure that they follow these guidelines for travelling to India. The new SOPs will come into effect on February 22 at 23:59 hours, it added.

“Attention Passengers! To reduce the risk of importation of mutant strains of SARS-CoV-2, SOP for International Passengers arriving in India have been updated in supersession of all guidelines on the subject since 2 Aug20. The new SOP will be in effect on 23:59 hrs on 22nd Feb,21,” the ministry tweeted, attaching the instructions in other tweets.

Passengers travelling through UK, Europe and the Middle East have to compulsorily get an RT-PCR upon arrival at their own expense. This will cover passengers from South Africa and Brazil as well, since there are no direct flights from these two nations.

If any passengers are found positive found positive, the virus strain will be identified and a separate protocol will be followed for them.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, the South African strain of the coronavirus was detected in four people and the Brazil variant has been seen in one so far. There are 187 cases of the UK strain in India.

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