India makes pre-flight Covid test mandatory for travellers from China

Those flying from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand will also need to show a negative test result before boarding

A health worker collects a sample from a passenger arriving on an international flight at Chennai international airport. EPA
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India has made a negative Covid test result mandatory for passengers arriving from China and five other Asian countries as the number of infections continues to rise globally.

Federal Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday said that passengers travelling from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand will have to provide a negative RT-PCR test beginning on January 1.

The test needs to be completed within 72 hours of the journey to India, and the result must be uploaded on India’s Air Suvidha portal before travel, Mr Mandaviya said.

Air Suvidha (Air Facility) was launched during the peak of the pandemic to enable contact tracing of foreign arrivals.

In addition to mandatory pre-travel tests for some Asian countries, random testing will be conducted on 2 per cent of all arrivals from abroad.

“This is being done in view of the evolving Covid-19 situation across the world, particularly in the aforesaid countries,” the Health Ministry said.

India began randomly testing international passengers arriving at its airports last week as case numbers in neighbouring China increased.

Although direct flights between India and China have been suspended since the pandemic outbreak, there are indirect flights via Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar.

Nearly 40 passengers from a total of 6,000 tested positive for Covid-19 in the past two days. Two of them had travelled from Dubai to Chennai.

India on Thursday reported more than 260 cases in the past 24 hours, while the active cases increased to 3,552, according to Health Ministry data.

Even though case numbers have ebbed in recent months, the government is worried about another possible wave and has stepped up measures to curb the spread.

It conducted mock drills at hundreds of hospitals across the country on Tuesday to check their preparedness.

Updated: December 29, 2022, 2:19 PM