The new travel rules at Bengaluru airport has led to chaos at the Kempegowda International Airport as the Karnataka government’s guidelines making an RT-PCR test mandatory for all international passengers, in view of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, kicked in. The chaos was majorly caused as there was only one testing counter to screen the passengers.
In a statement, airport authorities said, “There were a total of 1228 international passengers who arrived at Bengaluru airport from at-risk countries on December 1, between 12 am and 2 pm. Owing to a high volume of passengers who had to undergo RT-PCR testing, the service provider which operates the laboratory at Bengaluru airport experienced some delays today in processing test results.”
The statement said that the laboratory will be scaled up to cater to the increasing volume of passengers and added that adequate seating arrangements for passengers to wait for RT-PCR results have been made.
Here are the latest guidelines for international passengers arriving at the Bengaluru airport. Passengers are divided into two categories. Those who are coming in from ‘high-risk’ countries and others. The list of countries that are categorised as ‘high-risk’, as of November 30, include the Countries in Europe including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.
The guidelines state that all travellers coming to Bengaluru must submit a self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha portal which can be found here. This should be done before the scheduled travel, and must also include details of the countries visited in the last 14 days, before travel. Passengers must also upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test report, which should have been conducted within 72 hours before undertaking the journey.
At the time of boarding the flight, only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to board after thermal screening. Passengers who are travelling from countries categorised as at-risk shall have to be informed by the airlines that they will undergo tests after arrival and home quarantine if they test negative.
Screening will be conducted on all passengers who land and those found symptomatic shall be immediately isolated and taken to a medical facility. If they test positive, their contacts shall be identified.
For those from countries categorised as at-risk, passengers will have to undergo a COVID-19 test on arrival, for which they will have to bear the cost. The rates of the tests can be found here.
Travellers will be required to wait for their test results at the airport before they can leave or take a connecting flight. If they test negative, they will have to undergo home quarantine for seven days, and a test will be conducted again on the eighth day, following which the passengers are urged to self-monitor their health for the next seven days.
If they test positive, they will be sent to institutional quarantine and their samples will be sent for genomic testing. The contacts of such positive cases will also be kept under institutional quarantine or at home quarantine monitored strictly by the state government.
“Travellers from countries excluding those countries at risk, will be allowed to leave the airport and shall self-monitor their health for 14 days post arrival. A sub-section (2% of the total flight passengers) shall undergo post-arrival testing at random at the airport on arrival...The cost of testing of such travellers shall be borne by the travellers identified for random testing themselves. Laboratories shall prioritise testing of samples from such travellers,” the guidelines said.
However, speaking to reporters earlier this week, Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar suggested that all international passengers who land in Bengaluru, including from those countries not categorised as high-risk, will have to mandatorily undergo one week of home quarantine. But no official order has been issued by the state government so far.