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International arriving pax? Take an RT-PCR test at airport, board a domestic flight

 MUMBAI: The ministry of civil aviation on Wednesday issued guidelines that allow airports like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore etc to carry out RT-PCR tests within the airport premises for those international arrival passengers who need to fly onwards to a domestic destination. The ministry note said that the testing will initially be carried on a pilot basis and later guidelines could be issued to extend the facility to all international arrival passengers who wish to skip institutional quarantine on arrival.

 
Currently, a passenger booked on say, a London-Mumbai-Ahmedabad flight can fly onwards to Ahmedabad after landing in Mumbai only if he/she has a Covid-19 negative report for an RT-PCR test taken less than 96 hours prior to boarding the London to Mumbai flight. Transit passengers who don’t have a RT-PCR report are sent to an institutional quarantine on arrival in Mumbai. In Mumbai, under BMC norms, on day two of the hotel stay, the said passenger can undergo a RT-PCR test at the hotel. Once they test negative, only then can they board the onward Mumbai to Ahmedabad flight.
 
The latest MoCA guideline states: "To facilitate such transfer passengers, it has now been decided to allow for RT-PCR testing at the entry airport on a pilot basis." With this, a international passenger who lands in Mumbai, or say Delhi or any other Indian airport from a foreign country, without a RT-PCR test report, will now have the option of undergoing it at the airport itself. Said a source: "The Mumbai airport has been preparing to carry out RT-PCR tests within their premises and they might be able to offer this facility in a day or two."
 
The MoCA note said: "The airport operator will create a sample collection cum waiting lounge facility for RT-PCR testing….The test results will take anywhere between 1.5 to 2.5 hours for RT-PCR by GeneXpert and 6-7 hours for RT-PCR by other methods," said the note issued by Usha Padhee, joint secretary.
 
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At the waiting lounge, the airport operator shall provide the passengers with the option of either awaiting the reports at the waiting lounge or proceeding to a designated hotel to isolate themselves till the test results come, it said. Airports shall provide options for online booking for such RT-PCR tests on their website or other platforms.

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