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Civil Aviation Ministry mandates COVID-negative report for passengers from China, 5 other countries

RT-PCR testing should be done 72 hours prior to the journey

Flights on runway Representational image| Wikimedia Commons

The civil aviation ministry on Friday asked airlines to modify their check-in systems for international passengers coming into India as part of the revised Covid guidelines, which makes a negative Covid test report a must for travellers coming from China and five other countries from Sunday.

The ministry's direction comes a day after the health ministry decided to make RT-PCR negative test reports compulsory for passengers coming on all international flights from six high-risk countries --China, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and Japan.

The new rule will come into effect from January 1, 2023, amid rising coronavirus cases in these six countries and some other parts of the world.

Airlines are directed to modify their check-in functionalities to incorporate the changes and issue boarding passes only to those international passengers travelling from the six countries who have submitted self-declaration forms on the Air Suvidha portal, the Ministry of Civil Aviation(MoCA) said in a communication.

"Air Suvidha portal self-declaration has been made operational for passengers travelling on all international flights from China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Thailand and Japan, with a provision to allow these international travellers arriving in India to upload negative RT-PCR test reports as well as to submit self-declaration form," it said.

According to the Union health ministry, RT-PCR testing should be done 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey. The current practice of random testing of 2 per cent of arriving passengers on each international flight will also continue.

MoCA sent the communication regarding the revised guidelines to all scheduled commercial airlines, airport operators, and chief secretaries/ administrators of States/Union Territories, among others.

There were 83,003 international passenger arrivals in the country on December 29, as per the latest official data.

As per the guidelines issued by the health ministry on December 29, passengers coming on all international flights from the six high-risk countries have to upload RT-PCR negative test reports on the Air Suvidha portal and they have to submit complete and factual information in the self-declaration form on the portal before the scheduled travel.

It should also include details about their travel in the 1ast 14 days. "Each passenger shall also submit a declaration with respect to the authenticity of the report and will be liable for a criminal prosecution if found otherwise," the health ministry's guidelines said.

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