India’s New COVID-Testing Rules: Pre-Booking of RT-PCR Test Must for Passengers From ‘At-Risk’ Countries

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With Omicron cases rising across India, the Government has once again revised COVID-testing guidelines for international passengers traveling from ‘at-risk’ countries. The Ministry of Civil Aviation made the pre-booking of on-arrival RT-PCR test mandatory for travelers planning to fly to India on or after 20 December. 

As per India’s latest international travel guidelines that took effect on December 1, air passengers arriving from ‘at-risk countries’ must undergo on-arrival testing and wait for the result at the airport.  Now, the Government announced that pre-booking of the RT-PCR test is compulsory for air passengers who are either coming from ‘at-risk’ countries or have visited these countries in the 14 days preceding their travel to India.

At present, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong and Israel are the countries listed under the ‘at-risk’ category. India has recently removed Singapore from the list of ‘at-risk’ countries.

The new COVID-testing rule will be implemented at six of India’s major international airports in the first phase, said the statement released by the Civil Aviation Ministry. These six airports are Delhi airport, Mumbai airport, Hyderabad airport, Bengaluru airport, Kolkata airport, and Chennai airport

Air passengers can pre-book their RT-PCR test to be conducted at these six airports on the Air Suvidha portal. ‘Link to the concerned airport website would be provided in Air Suvidha platform which would be displayed to passengers while filling up the self-declaration form (SDF),’ read the statement.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has also said that the airlines wouldn’t stop passengers from boarding the flight to India on the grounds that they haven’t pre-booked the RT-PCR test. Instead, the airlines would guide such passengers to the registration counter at the arrival airport for testing.

The cost for the RT-PCR test is INR 500 at Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru airports, INR 600 at Chennai airport, and INR 750 at Hyderabad airport. For the Rapid PCR test, passengers must shell out INR 1975 at Mumbai airport, INR 2900 at Chennai airport, INR 3000 at Bengaluru airport, INR 3500 at Delhi airport and INR 3900 at Hyderabad airport. While the Rapid PCR test report comes out in 30 minutes to 2 hours, it takes anywhere between 6 to 8 hours for the RT-PCR result to be available.    

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