The government of India has put New Zealand along with eight other countries in a new “At risk” category along with European countries and the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel. 

The Union Health Ministry on Sunday revised the guidelines for the international arrivals in the wake of new Covid variant, Omicron – designated as a Variant of Concern (VOC) by the World Health Organization (WHO). The new guidelines will be effective from December 1.

The Health Ministry, in a statement, said: "The existing guidelines have been revised in view of reporting of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 (B.1.1.529; named Omicron) which has been now classified as VOC by the WHO."

The government said that international arrivals will now have to upload their 14-day travel history and valid negative RT-PCR test reports on Air Suvidha portal before embarking on their journey to India.

The RT-PCR test report should not be more than 72 hours old, added the statement.

According to the new guidelines, the passengers travelling from countries that are categorised as 'at-risk' will have to undergo testing on arrival.

If the passengers test positive, their samples will be sent for genomic sequencing, and they will be sent to institutional quarantine.

If they test negative, they will be asked to remain in home quarantine for seven days following which they will take a test on the 8th day and continue monitoring their health for the next 7 days.

The tests for passengers from 'at-risk' nations will be self-paid while the cost of the random tests will be borne by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

"Travellers from countries excluding the 'at risk' countries will be allowed to leave the airport and shall self-monitor their health for 14 days post-arrival," said the statement.

On November 24, South Africa reported the B.1.1.529 variant to WHO. Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop flights from countries that are affected by the new Covid-19 variant. 

"I urge Hon'ble PM to stop flights from those countries which are affected by the new variant. With great difficulty, our country has recovered from Corona. We should do everything possible to prevent this new variant from entering India," CM Kejriwal tweeted.

Interestingly, New Zealand is included in the At-Risk list despite there being no Omicron variant detected here as yet. Though it has been found in Australia, the trans-Tasman neighbour has escaped on the list.