India to drop pre-departure Covid tests for travellers from China, other countries

In a letter to the Secretary of Aviation, the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, "Ministry is updating its 'Guidelines for International Arrivals'..."

Published: 10th February 2023 07:51 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th February 2023 07:51 PM   |  A+A-

Cancelled flights parked in Chennai airport

Representational image of the Chennai airport. (File Photo | Martin Louis, EPS)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: India will drop the need for pre-departure Covid-19 tests and the uploading of the Air Suvidha form for international passengers from China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Thailand and Japan. But random testing of 2 percent of all international travellers at the airports will continue.

The new guidelines for international arrivals will come into practice from 11am Monday.

The decision to drop the existing requirements of pre-departure Covid-19 testing and uploading of Air Suvidha form from passengers travelling from these hotspot countries was taken after they witnessed a "sustained and significant decline in the trajectory of Covid-19 cases in the last four weeks."

In a letter to the Secretary of Aviation, the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, "Ministry is updating its 'Guidelines for International Arrivals', and dropping the existing requirements of pre-departure COVID-19 testing and uploading of Self-Health Declaration on the Ministry of Civil Aviation's 'Air Suvidha' portal applicable for international travellers coming from/via China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea, Thailand and Japan."

"Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as a part of its proactive yet graded public health response to COVID-19 management has been updating 'Guidelines for International Arrivals' from time to time. In the last update, based on the increasing trajectory of COVID-19 and circulation of mutant variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in some countries, the Ministry had mandated requirements of pre-departure COVID-19 testing and uploading of Self-Health Declaration on the Ministry of Civil Aviation's 'Air Suvidha' Portal," the letter said.

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The health secretary also said that as per the World Health Organization's latest situational update on Covid-19, a decline of 89 percent in the number of newly confirmed cases in the past 28 days has been noted globally as compared to 28 days prior to that.

"Meanwhile, India has continued to witness a declining trajectory, with less than 100 new cases/day being reported,” the letter said.

However, 2 per cent random testing will continue "in order to monitor infections due to mutated variants of SARS-CoV-2 among international travellers to India, the present exercise of random testing of 2 per cent travellers to India (irrespective of country of origin) upon arrival in India shall continue."

On December 29, the ministry had announced mandatory pre-departure testing and uploading of negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test reports and self-health declaration forms on the Air Suvidha portal for travellers coming from these hotspotcountries. The step was taken in view of a surge in Covid cases in some countries, including neighbouring China.



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