Delhi’s Indira Gandhi airport on Friday evening tweeted a clarification of coronavirus testing and isolation rules for all passengers arriving on flights from the United Kingdom, stating, among other points, that the waiting time for Covid test results could extend up to 10 hours and that the cost of the test and intervening stay had to be borne by the passengers.
The tweet comes after chaos at the airport today – caused by a last minute revision of rules that made seven days’ institutional quarantine mandatory even for passengers with negative RT-PCR tests.
In its tweet the Delhi Airport said all passengers coming from the UK had to undergo RT-PCR tests both at origin and destination, and that all passengers – including those testing negative – had to undergo seven days’ institutional quarantine, followed by a further seven days’ of home isolation.
The tweet did not say if exceptions could be made for certain groups, such as pregnant women.
Kind attention to all flyers arriving from the UK. pic.twitter.com/LfeZFTYN44
— Delhi Airport (@DelhiAirport) January 8, 2021
Irate passengers, who believed they had met Covid-related safety requirements for their flights home, faced an unpleasant surprise when landing in Delhi Friday morning.
“There is total chaos right now. We are inside a lounge… lots of security staff outside. We are being treated like we are in a cage… and hotels are trying to make this a business by offering deals for quarantine. We took our flight yesterday… there were no such guidelines,” Sourav Dutta, one of hundreds who have been stuck inside the airport for hours, told NDTV.
Several also took to Twitter to highlight the situation, tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in their messages.
The notification that seemed to cause the confusion was issued after a Thursday appeal by Mr Kejriwal – asking the centre to extend the ban on flights from the UK till January 31 – failed. At 2.30 pm Friday Mr Kejriwal tweeted revised rules. Passengers have pointed out they were been told of the changes.
“Just came from London AI112, it’s absolutely maniac at Delhi Airport. Asking us to go for institutional quarantine even with Negative PCR test. Didn’t mention this on your SOP,” Harprit Takkar tweeted with videos of the pandemonium, tagging the Civil Aviation Minister and Air India.
@HardeepSPuri Just came from London AI112, it’s absolutely maniac at Delhi Airport.
Asking us to go for institutional quarantine even with Negative PCR test.
Didn’t mention this on your SOP.@airindiainpic.twitter.com/B13HcbgVaG
— Harprit Takkar (@HarpritTakkar) January 8, 2021
The centre had suspended flight services between the two countries on December 23 over the new and more contagious strain of the coronavirus. While India has lifted the ban, many major European countries like France, Spain and Germany have extended it.
The number of people who have tested positive for the new UK variant has climbed to 82; over a dozen of these cases have been reported from Delhi. The total number of active Covid cases in the national capital is around 4,200.