The Union health ministry, on February 28, revised the international travel advisory, imposed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide various exemptions to travellers from abroad to aid the evacuation of Indian students from the war-hit Ukraine.
Under the revised guidelines, mandatory pre-boarding negative RTPCR test and COVID-19 vaccination certificate are not required to be uploaded on the Air-Suvidha portal by Indian nationals heading home now.
The government said that individuals who have completed their COVID-19 vaccination, irrespective of the country of departure or vaccination, are being allowed to leave the arrival airport in India with the advice to self-monitor their health for the next 14 days.
However, such travellers will need to submit their samples for COVID-19 testing on arrival.
The latest advisory comes following a request by the Ministry of External Affairs on February 25.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
As on February 28, as many as 1,156 Indians, mostly students pursuing MBBS course, from Ukraine have arrived in the country and the ministry said that none of the passengers have been kept in isolation.
A statement by the ministry said that large diasporas of Indian nationals, mainly students, have found themselves embroiled in the political turmoil in Ukraine and added that their direct evacuation through flights could not be carried out in view of the Notice to Airmen or Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) issued in Ukraine.
Accordingly, Indian missions in Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary have been making arrangements to get Indian nationals from Ukraine and fly them out of their respective countries under Operation Ganga flights, it said.