According to the revised guidelines for international arrivals that was released on Thursday, children below the age of five are no more needed to be tested for COVID either at pre or post arrival in India.
However, if any children are found having any symptoms of COVID-19 either on arrival or during the period of home quarantine, they need to be tested and be treated accordingly as stated in the guidelines.
Keeping in mind that the global path of COVID-19 pandemic started to decline with definite regional variations, the document also stated the urgency to monitor the changing nature of Covid virus and also the rise of SARS-CoV-2 variants should be a matter of concern and must still stay in focus.
The guidelines that were issued on February 17 for international arrivals in India have been also seen as an approach based on risk. After viewing the increasing coverage of vaccination around the world and also the change in the nature of the pandemic, the health ministry has stated to review the existing guidelines.
It stated that, “Children under 5 years of age are exempted from both pre- and post-arrival testing. However, if found symptomatic for COVID-19 on arrival or during home quarantine period, they shall undergo testing and treated as per laid down protocol.”
The ministry also stated that the standard operating protocol will be valid from November 12, 2021, till any further orders are given.
The current guidelines states that if the travelers are completely vaccinated and are arriving from a country with which India has already got agreements for the similar acceptance of World Health Organization (WHO) approved vaccines, they will be allowed to depart from the airport and that they won’t have to undergo a period of home quarantine as well.
The travelers have the privilege to monitor their health themselves for 14 days after their arrival.
Although if they are partially or not at all vaccinated, then the travelers will need to take certain measures where they have to submit a sample for post-arrival test of Covid at the time of their arrival after which only they will be allowed to depart from the airport, followed by home quarantine for seven days, again go for a re-test on the eighth day and if the test comes negative, they are given the privilege to monitor themselves for the next span of seven days.
The guidelines stated that, “15 days must have elapsed since completion of the COVID-19 vaccination schedule.”
Travelers who are staying in home quarantine or are monitoring their health themselves, if they find any symptom that are relevant to COVID-19 or if they test positive after re-testing, they will have to stay in self-isolation and also report to the nearest health facility or make a call either to the national helpline number (1075) or the state helpline number.
On arriving, dashboarding is compulsory to ensure and maintain physical distancing and thermal screening would also be done in order to maintain COVID protocols by the health authority officials that are present at the airport.
Even the self-declaration form that was filled online must be shown to the airport health staff.
The travelers that are found symptomatic during screening will have to be immediately isolated and taken to health facility according to the guidelines. If they are tested positive, their contacts are needed to be identified and should be managed properly as laid down protocol.
The co-passengers seated in the same row are the contacts of the suspect case, three row ahead of the suspect case and subsequently three rows behind along with the cabin crew that are identified. Also, the contacts of the suspect case who have tested positive (during the period of home quarantine) also have to stay in quarantine for 14 days and get tested as per ICMR set of rule, stated by the guidelines.