From Monday, 20 December, going forward, the Indian government has made it mandatory for international travellers and passengers coming to India from "at risk" nations to pre-book an RT-PCR test amid a rise in 'Omicron' - a COVID-19 new variant. And the above measures will be enforced immediately at six major international airports in India - Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Hyderabad.
The announcement was made amid protests of long queues at the airports due to tightened COVID protocols following the Omicron scare.
The order also stated that the Air Suvidha portal would be modified to allow the passengers to mandatorily pre-book the RT-PCR test if they are corning from or have visited "at risk" countries in the last 14 days.
It also mentioned that a link to the concerned airport website would be provided on the online platform which would be displayed to passengers while filling up the self-declaration form.
"DGCA is requested to issue advisory to all airlines to check mandatory pre-booking of their passengers before boarding the flight In case any passenger is having any difficulty in pre-booking, they may not be denied boarding, but it would be the responsibility of the airlines to identify and accompany such passengers to the registration counter at the airport for testing," the order added.
How much does the RT-PCR test cost you?
A traveller will have to pay ₹500, for a regular RT-PCR test. And ₹3,500, for a rapid PCR test.
How to pre-book RT-PCR tests at airports in India?
1. Visit the official website for the international airport of the city you are travelling to. For convenience, here are the ones for Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata.
2. Look for an option called 'Book Covid-19 Test' on the top panel.
3. Next, select travel type (in this case, international arrival).
4. Fill up all personal details such as name, email ID, mobile number, Aadhaar card/passport number, address, appointment date, time slot, etc.
5. After entering all the details, select the type of test (in this case, RT-PCR, though Rapid PCR testing is available as well)
6. Follow the instructions displayed on the screen, and book a slot for your RT-PCR test on arrival at the airport.