Centre’s SOP for flyers to stop import of SA, Brazilian strains of COVID-19

RT-PCR test 72 hours before travel mandatory for all incoming passengers; those found symptomatic on arrival will be immediately isolated and sent to medical facility, says Union Health Ministry in SOP  

Airport PTI
Representative photo: PTI

The Centre on Wednesday (February 18) issued fresh guidelines for all incoming international passengers travelling in view of two highly contagious strains of COVID-19 – the South African and Brazilian variants – being detected in India.

In a statement that it posted on Twitter, the Union Health Ministry, however, said that the rules do not apply to travellers coming from the UK, Europe and Middle East.

“Attention Passengers! To reduce the risk of importation of mutant strains of SARS-CoV-2, SOP for international passengers arriving in India have been updated in supersession of all guidelines on the subject since 2 Aug20. The new SOP will be in effect on 23:59 hrs on 22nd Feb,21,” the ministry tweeted.


According to the new rules, only travellers who test negative in RT-PCR tests 72 hours before the travel, would be allowed to board the plane. However, people who are travelling due to death in the family will be exempted from this rule.

Passengers who are found symptomatic during screening after arriving in India, would be immediately isolated and taken to a medical facility as per health protocol, the SOP said.

It also mandates the conduct of an RT-PCR test on arrival for passenger travelling through UK, Europe and the Middle East.

According to ICMR, the South African strain of the virus has been detected in four people while the Brazilian mutant has been seen in one person so far. As many as 187 people have been diagnosed with the highly contagious UK strain of COVID-19.