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From May 22, all passengers flying out from India will need a negative RT-PCR test report with a QR code. This was announced by the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation as part of a release last week.
This is being done to make sure the test reports are authentic. There have been incidents where passengers have produced fake reports.
This step will also ensure minimum physical contact, said the ministry.
"The airline operators are advised to accept only those passengers who are carrying a negative RT-PCR test report with QR code for boarding international flights departing from India after 0001 hours on 22nd May 2021," the ministry said in a release.
The Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had announced on April 30 that India is extending the ban on international commercial flights (scheduled to and from India) till May 31, 2021.
Many countries, including the US, UK, Australia, Maldives, and Canada, have banned flights from India because of the highly contagious COVID-19 strain found here.
On May 12, the European Commission had called on its 27 member-states to temporarily stop non-essential travel from India to help curb the spread of a COVID-19 variant.
Meanwhile, flights under travel bubbles and those involved with repatriation will continue to operate.
Starting 16 June, Vistara will operate special weekly flights to Tokyo under India’s travel bubble agreement with Japan. Air India is all set to operate flights to London.
Several airports have introduced express testing facilities for flyers. Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSIMA) introduced the first express COVID-19 testing facility in the country in January this year. The facility provides test results in just 13 minutes and can be availed by all international and domestic travellers for INR 4,500.
For domestic flyers, the 72 hour test has been a bit of a struggle to get in the middle of the second wave. Travellers and other travel sector players had welcomed one of the recommendations offered by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in May in its latest advisory for COVID-19 testing during the second wave of the pandemic. The ICMR had recommended that ‘the need for RTPCR test in healthy individuals undertaking inter-state domestic travel may be completely removed to reduce the load on laboratories’. Read more about it here.
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