To test incoming international passengers, the country's first on-site Covid testing facility is coming up at the capital's Indira Gandhi International Airport and will provide RT-PCR test results within six hours.
The facility, to be set up by a private laboratory empanelled by the Delhi government for Covid testing, is expected to be operational by mid-September.
Genestrings Diagnostic Centre, which will establish the 3,500 square metre facility at the multi-level car parking of Terminal 3, said that the results of samples collected at the facility will be declared within 4-6 hours, and until then, the passengers will be isolated in the waiting lounge or may opt to stay in a hotel.
In case of a positive result, the passenger concerned will be processed in line with applicable Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) protocols by the authorities while those testing negative can continue their onward air journey, it added.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare guidelines mandate international passengers arriving in India and having RT-PCR negative certificate would be exempt from institutional quarantine by states and will be allowed onward air journey.
Incoming travellers will be exempted from institutional quarantine if they have a negative report from a RT-PCR test
The government, in an advisory issued in August, mandated that incoming travellers may seek exemption from institutional quarantine, if they have a negative report from a RT-PCR test conducted within 96 hours before the journey.
Genestrings Diagnostic Centre Director, Rajat Arora, said that the facility would ensure incoming passengers from abroad who could not arrange for a report on their Covid status can get it at the first airport upon reaching India.
Besides, residents of Delhi may choose to get tested at the airport laboratory and wait for the results before entering the city, he added.
"This is the first time such an arrangement is coming up at any airport in the entire country. We will test the incoming passengers at the airport, and the reports will be ready within 4-6 hours, which will ensure that they are tested before entering the city as well as for onward journey. RT-PCR is a gold standard way of testing for Covid-19 and will be a game-changer for the safety of incoming passengers. We are very proud of this collaboration and will ensure a successful implementation," he added.
The testing facility and infrastructure at T3 has been readied by Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), a joint venture of corporate firms and the Airports Authority of India handling operations, management, and development of the IGIA since 2006, with all the necessary audits and approvals from the governing bodies.
DIAL's CEO, Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, said: "Delhi airport continues to be a hub for international travellers even during the pandemic. The pilot initiative has been taken to ensure testing of all arriving international transfer passengers scheduled to board a domestic connecting flight post-arrival at Delhi Airport. The Covid-19 testing laboratory at Delhi Airport has been adequately equipped for testing and sample collection that will be conducted in compliance with the protocols established by the ICMR and the NABL."