Explained: Why has the Covid-19 protocols for travellers from UK been changed?


The Delhi government has lifted the requirement of mandatory 7-day institutional quarantine for passengers arriving from the UK and testing negative for Covid-19 at the airport. This assumes significance as the Delhi government had earlier this month brought in the now revoked rule without sufficient notice — something which caught hundreds of passengers by surprise.

What was the rule for passengers arriving from the UK into Delhi?

Earlier this month, with the Centre resuming flights from the UK that were banned on account of the mutated Covid-19 strain, the Delhi government had deviated from the Union Health Ministry’s guidelines and mandated each and every passenger arriving from the UK to undergo institutional quarantine for seven days upon arrival. This was a surprise for more than 200 passengers onboard an Air India flight from London to the UK, given that the new rule had been notified after the flight took off from London. Air India, however, has contested this and said that passengers were informed about the change in rule at the London airport.

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Why has the norm been relaxed now?

In a fresh order, the Delhi government has said that the situation has been reviewed and considering the low positivity rate of the UK returnees, it has been decided that the additional measure of compulsory institutional quarantine of travellers testing negative may not be required.

What is the status with UK flights?

Last month, the Indian government had decided to suspend all flights from the UK — and these were partially resumed January 8 onwards. This was done in light of the spread of the mutated coronavirus strain, which originated in the UK, and spread to over two two dozen countries at the time, including in India. After assessing the situation pertaining to this mutated strain, the Central government decided earlier this week to further extend the restrictions on number of flights from the UK till February 14. This means that flights from the UK will continue to operate on a restricted capacity.

What do passengers arriving from the UK need to do?

The travel guidelines for passengers remain the same in the extended restrictions. In line with the guidelines for other international arrivals, all inbound passengers from the UK will have to submit self-declaration form on the online portal ( at least 72 hours before the scheduled travel. All the passengers arriving from the UK also need to carry negative RT-PCR test report, for which test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey. Airlines have been asked to ensure that a passenger is carrying the negative test report prior to allowing them to board the flight. Upon arrival at Indian airports, all passengers coming in from UK in all international flights would be mandatorily subjected to self-paid RT-PCR tests.

What happens if a passenger tests positive for Covid-19 upon arrival?

Passengers testing positive shall be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate (isolation) unit coordinated by the respective State Health Authorities. They would earmark specific facilities for such isolation and treatment and take necessary action to send the positive samples to Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Labs. If the test report reveals that the the Covid-19 variant is not the new one, then the ongoing treatment protocol including home isolation or treatment at facility as per case severity will be followed. If the test report reveals that a passenger has tested positive for the new variant, then the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit. While necessary treatment as per the existing protocol will be given, the patient will be tested on 14th day, after having tested positive in the initial test. The patient will be kept in the isolation facility till their sample is tested negative.


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