Flying to Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands or Leh in Ladakh? Make sure you have an RT-PCR test in case you are not fully vaccinated.
While most states and federal territories have eased coronavirus restrictions, some states and territories still want unvaccinated travelers to obtain mandatory RT-PCR test reports between 48 and 96 hours before commencing travel, or upon arrival in their respective Get tested at the airport.
South Andaman Deputy Commissioner Suneel Anchipaka told PTI that the Union Territory followed its health department’s directive to conduct mandatory RT-PCR test reports for unvaccinated travelers arriving at Port Blair Airport.
Besides Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Ladakh is another union territory where unvaccinated travelers must undergo RT-PCR testing at Leh airport.
“We are conducting random RT-PCR tests on tourists,” said Dr Motup Dorje, director of health services in Leh.
Some scientists call this a futile exercise without any scientific basis, arguing that it makes no sense to mandate RT-PCR testing on unvaccinated people at airports when science proves that even vaccinated people can transmit the virus.
Jayaprakash Muliyil, a prominent epidemiologist, said: “It is not necessary at all. Everyone has been infected with Covid at least once. Even if a part of the population is not infected by the original strain or the Delta variant, they are infected with the highly immunogenic variant Omicron. It puts the early Immunity has risen to the sky.”
“Omicron has done us a huge favor. Today, if people don’t wear a mask, they benefit from being infected with and immune to their mild virus,” he said.
Travelers can also be troubled, as conflicting norms cause unnecessary inconvenience.
“I went to Port Blair with six other family members and we had to pay for their RT-PCR tests, which was an added financial burden,” claims Sanjay, 28, who recently flew to the island.
He said outdated travel advice on airline websites was another issue causing confusion.
On its website, IndiGo referred to the protocols put in place by different state governments for passengers arriving at their respective airports.
Although it said the norms were updated no later than November 9, many state health officials told PTI that they had withdrawn them long ago.
In the case of Nagaland, the protocol on the website states, “All passengers aged 12 and above traveling to Nagaland are advised to have a negative RT-PCR/TrueNAT/CBNAAT report within 72 hours of arrival. State or Final Vaccination Certificate (Complete two doses).”
“These are outdated norms. We will not ask anyone to do any RT-PCR test, regardless of his or her vaccination status,” said Dr Nyan Kikon, State Node Officer, Department of Health and Family Welfare, IDSP, Nagaland, and Adding that no northeastern state currently has such a norm.
On its website, SpiceJet informs travelers intending to travel to Srinagar that if they do not have proof of vaccination, they must carry a negative RT-PCR test report or undergo a rapid antigen test upon arrival.
Dr Syed Manzoor Kadri, National Surveillance Officer, Kashmir Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP), said: “This is not the latest status. Now we don’t need any such certificate for anyone who is vaccinated or not.”
While airlines declined to comment, some states acknowledged that airlines have not updated their latest announcements.
“I think state health departments and airlines should be aligned so tourists and people traveling from one state to another are not affected,” said a senior airline official.
(Only the title and image of this report may have been modified by Business Standard staff; the rest was automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)