With the Union government mandating RT-PCR tests for international arrivals, many passengers have been forced to shell out around Rs 3,000 to get their results in an hour.

Several passengers standing in front a gate at airportRepresentational image/PTI
news COVID-19 Thursday, December 02, 2021 - 16:12

In view of the new Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, stricter curbs have been enforced at various airports in India. The curbs, however, have caused a lot of chaos and confusion among passengers. The airports have mandated that all the passengers arriving into India will have to upload a copy of a negative RT-PCR test, not older than 72 hours, onto the Air Suvidha website before they travel. Additionally, 2% of passengers arriving at the airport will be chosen randomly by the authorities for an RT-PCR test as well. The charge for the test has to be borne by the passenger.

For passengers who are coming from countries considered ‘high risk,’ the Union government has mandated that an RT-PCR test be conducted on every single passenger. If any passenger tests positive for the novel coronavirus, they will be quarantined at a medical facility and their sample will be sent for genome sequencing. However, even if the passengers from the high-risk countries test negative, they will still have to be under home quarantine for a week and get tested again on the eighth day of arrival. Here too, the passengers would have to bear the cost of the tests and will be allowed to leave the airport after their test results are obtained.

This has led to passengers being compelled to shell out more money for getting themselves tested at airports. There are currently two types of tests being used — RT-PCR and the rapid PCR tests. While the results of rapid PCR tests come within an hour, RT-PCR takes around 5-8 hours for the test results to come back. Therefore, passengers who cannot afford to wait at the airport for five to eight hours are compelled to opt for the rapid PCR test, which is considerably more expensive. 

While, the regular RT-PCR test costs Rs 500 at airports in Bengaluru, Kochi, Kozhikode and New Delhi, the ‘Rapid RT-PCR’ test costs Rs 2,490 in Kochi and Kozhikode, Rs 3,000 in Bengaluru and Rs 3,900 in New Delhi. At the Chennai airport, a regular RT-PCR costs Rs 700 and the rapid one costs Rs 3,400. In Mumbai, the regular RT-PCR costs Rs 600 and the Rapid RT-PCR costs Rs 4,500.

With no other option except to wait for 5-8 hours for the regular RT-PCR tests, passengers have been forced to shell out these premiums to avoid the wait at the airport.

After many passengers pointed out the extra costs they have to bear, the Tamil Nadu government has offered to pay for those travellers who are not able to afford the Rapid RT-PCR test.