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COVID-19 Travel: International passengers to Delhi may have to wait up to 6 hours for test results

According to the government's new rule, passengers flying from countries where the new COVID-19 variant of concern, Omicron, has been detected are mandatorily required to give their test samples and wait at the airport till they test negative.

November 30, 2021 / 08:39 PM IST
Representative Image. (Image: AFP)

Representative Image. (Image: AFP)

The new guidelines for international passengers arriving in India will kick in a few hours, and this means that passengers are in for a long wait at airports.

For instance, passengers arriving at the Delhi airport from 'at-risk' nations can expect a waiting time of up to six hours till they get their RT-PCR test results, according to a report in NDTV.

According to the government's new rule, passengers flying from countries where the new COVID-19 variant of concern, Omicron, has been detected are mandatorily required to give their test samples and wait at the airport till they test negative, to leave.

Sources to NDTV claim that it will take at least four to six hours for these results to be processed. Although efforts are being made to ramp up testing facilities, the report says that the testing company can process 400-500 tests an hour.

Passengers will need to wait in a special holding area, socially distanced but with hundreds of passengers nearby.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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As of now, all passengers from Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel will be tested at the airport using the RT-PCR method. Five per cent of travellers from other countries will also be randomly tested.

According to a report in India Today, the airport has also increased its seating facility from 1,000 to 1,400. Sources from GMR told India Today said they are expecting a daily footfall of approximately 1,200 passengers who would need to be tested as per the new guidelines.

The seats at the testing facility have been arranged to ensure proper social distancing while passengers wait to get their results.

In light of WHO labelling Omicron as a variant of concern, the government tightened rules for screening and testing of international arrivals. However, as of November 30, no Omicron case has been detected in India, according to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandviya's statement in the parliament.
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first published: Nov 30, 2021 08:39 pm
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