No COVID testing for children below 5 on international arrivals: Health Ministry

Photo used for representational purpose only. In the revised guidelines children below five years have been exempted from both pre- and post-arrival testing for COVID-19 in India. File   | Photo Credit: Velankanni Raj B.

Children below five years are exempted from both pre- and post-arrival testing for COVID-19, according to the revised guidelines for international arrivals released on Thursday by the Health Ministry.

The guidelines, however, state that in case they are found symptomatic for coronavirus infections on arrival or during the home quarantine period, they shall undergo testing and be treated according to protocol. This standard operating procedure (SOP) shall be valid from November 12 (00.00 hours IST) till further orders, the Ministry stated.

The Health Ministry said that the guidelines for international arrivals in India have been reviewed in view of increasing vaccination coverage across the globe and the changing nature of the pandemic.

In its guidelines, the Ministry said that the global trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to decline, with certain regional variations, but added that there is a need to monitor the continuously changing nature of the virus and the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOC), which must still remain in focus.

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The revised guidelines also state that 15 days must have elapsed since the completion of the COVID-19 vaccination schedule. According to the existing guidelines, if travellers are fully vaccinated and coming from a country with which India has reciprocal arrangements for mutual acceptance of World Health Organization-approved COVID-19 vaccines, they shall be allowed to leave the airport and need not undergo home quarantine. They shall self-monitor their health for 14 days post arrival. If partially or not vaccinated, the travellers need to undertake measures, which includes submission of sample for post-arrival COVID-19 test at the point of arrival, after which they will be allowed to leave the airport, home quarantine for seven days, re-test on the eighth day of arrival in India and, if negative, further self-monitor their health for the next seven days.

If travellers under home quarantine or self-health monitoring develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, or test positive for COVID-19 on re-testing, they must immediately self-isolate and report to their nearest health facility, or call the national helpline number (1075) or relevant State helpline number.

On arrival, de-boarding should be done, ensuring physical distancing and thermal screening of all passengers is carried out by the health officials present at the airport.

The self-declaration form filled online shall be shown to the airport health staff.

Passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to a medical facility, according to the health protocol. If tested positive, their contacts shall be identified and managed according to laid-down protocol.

Contacts of suspected cases are co-passengers seated in the same row, plus three rows in front and three rows behind, along with identified cabin crew. Also, all the community contacts of travellers who have tested positive (during the home quarantine period) would be subjected to quarantine for 14 days and tested as per the Indian Council of Medical Research’s protocol , the guidelines stated.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 9:50:41 PM |

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