Omicron: India adds Bangladesh to list of ‘at risk’ countries

Bangladesh has been added to a list of “at-risk” countries from where travellers would need to follow additional measures, including RT-PCR test on self-expenditure, on arrival in India against the backdrop of rising concerns over the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The other countries in the list updated today, by the Indian Health Ministry, are the countries in Europe including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.

Under the revised guidelines released today by the Indian Health Ministry for international arrivals, passengers from these “at-risk” countries will undergo RT-PCR test post-arrival and quarantine if tested negative and stringent isolation protocols if tested positive, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

The passengers on arrival must submit samples for the Covid-19 test on their own expenditure and they will be required to wait for their test results at the airport before leaving or taking a connecting flight.

If tested negative, the passengers will follow home quarantine for seven days and subject themselves to re-test on the eighth day of arrival in India. Also, if tested negative, these passengers will further self-monitor their health for the next seven days.

However, if such travellers test positive, their samples would be sent for genomic testing — to confirm for Omicron variant — at India’s consortium laboratory network and they would be kept at separate isolation facility and treated as per laid down standard protocol, including contact-tracing.

The contacts of such positive cases would be kept under institutional quarantine or at home quarantine monitored strictly by the concerned state government as per laid down protocol.

International travellers arriving through seaports or land ports will also have to undergo the same protocol except for that facility for online registration is not available for such passengers currently.

Such travellers would have to submit the self-declaration form to the concerned Indian authorities at seaports and land ports on arrival.

Children under five years of age are exempted from both pre-and post-arrival testing. But if found symptomatic for Covid-19 on arrival or during the home quarantine period, these children will have to undergo testing and be treated as per laid down protocol.

According to the new guidelines, contacts of the suspect case are the co-passengers seated in the same row, three rows in front and three rows behind along with identified cabin crew.

Also, all the community contacts of those travellers who have tested positive (during the home quarantine period) would be subjected to quarantine for 14 days.

The ministry said the existing guidelines for international arrivals in India have been revised taking a risk-based approach in view of reporting of the new Omicron variant which has been classified as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.