Revealed: Cost of on-arrival COVID-19 RT-PCR test in India for passengers from UAE

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New kiosks were set up in Kannur International Airport in Kerala for providing on-arrival RT-PCR molecular confirmatory test for international passengers including those from the UAE.
Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Travelling to India from the UAE now costs more as all passengers, including children and infants, have to undergo a COVID-19 test on arrival at Indian airports as per the latest travel protocol that came into effect from 12am on February 23.

Airlines are now advising passengers to carry adequate funds for the “self-paid confirmatory molecular test” that has been made mandatory for all passengers from the Middle East.

But how much should they be paying for this second round of RT-PCR test (after the pre-departure negative test taken within 72 hours before the flight from the UAE which is mandatory for boarding) on arrival at the Indian airports?

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Passengers wait for the test at Kannur International Airport
Image Credit: Supplied

As reported by Gulf News on Monday, different airports in India are charging different rates for the on-arrival RT-PCR COVID-19 confirmatory test, depending on the charges fixed by the respective state governments.

Dubai’s Emirates Airline has listed the cost of the test at different Indian destinations it is currently serving.

The following is the information pertaining to COVID-19 RT-PCR tests, including the cost and other requirements and processing time at different Indian airports, as listed on the website of Emirates.

Ahmedabad (AMD)

On arrival molecular test will cost approximately Rs800 per person.

In order to expedite the sampling process upon arrival at Ahmedabad, all passengers are requested to fill the required information on the Supratech website.

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Bangalore (BLR)

All passengers travelling to Bengaluru (BLR) must download the Aarogya setu app, Quarantine Watch app and Apthamitra app on their mobile devices.

On arrival molecular test per person will cost approximately as below:

RT PCR Express Rs3,000 (30 minutes processing time)

RT PCR (normal) Rs500 (For hours processing time)

Chennai (MAA)

All passengers must, ensure TN e pass is applied and details are ready to be shown to state health authorities.

Transfer passengers on arrival who are travelling to other states have to apply for fresh e pass on arrival and follow the other state process when connecting on to a domestic flight. Transfer facility of passengers and baggage is currently not available.

On arrival molecular test will cost approximately Rs1,200 to 2,500 per person.

Delhi (DEL)

On arrival molecular test will cost approximately Rs800 per person.

Passengers who have to wait for their results before their connecting flights must pay for the lounge cost at approximately Rs2,600 per person.

Hyderabad (HYD)

On arrival molecular test will cost approximately Rs1,000 per person.

Passengers who have to wait for their results before their connecting flights must pay for the lounge cost at approximately Rs4,200 per person.

Kerala (COK/TRV)

All passengers travelling to Kerala must also update their details on COVID 19 Jagratha portal at least two days before departure.

On arrival molecular test will cost approximately Rs1,500 to 2,000 per person.

According to Gulf News sources, it is fixed at Rs1,700 in Kerala airports.

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Kolkata (CCU)

On arrival molecular test will cost approximately Rs950 per person.

Mumbai (BOM)

On arrival molecular test will cost approximately Rs850 per person.

Expats seek fee exemption

Meanwhile, several expats have sought an exemption from the charges for the on-arrival confirmatory test and demanded that the Indian government must bear it.

Pointing out that they had already paid for the pre-departure RT-PCR test, which is valid for 72 hours, they said they were not ready to make an extra payment for the test on arrival.

Sources in travel agencies and airlines also said that many Indian expats have urged the government back home to bear the cost of the test on-arrival.

“Many people are flying home with a lot of difficulties. They have come to know about this additional expenditure in the last minute. If people are flying with families, they will end up spending a lot on the test. The government should consider making the on-arrival test for free just like in the UAE,” said T. P. Sudheesh, general manager of Deira Travels.

He said passengers are also concerned about tests for young children and waiting time at the airports that could expose them to coronavirus infection.

Meanwhile, airlines and Indian missions reported smooth operations after the implementation of the new rules.

Spokespersons of the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the Indian Consulate in Dubai and major Indian airlines said they did not receive any reports of passengers being stopped from travelling for violating the new rules or specific complaints about the new process.

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Kiosks, counters

Airports in India have set up separate testing facilities, including kiosks and counters for the on-arrival tests.

A senior official from Kannur International Airport in Kerala told Gulf News over the phone that the airport had set up nine kiosks for the tests.

“We began the testing service with two international flights arriving from Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. The fee is Rs1,700 as fixed by the Kerala government. Apart from the nine kiosks for testing, five more counters for data entry, billing and other services have also been arranged. In case if there is any requirement we will arrange more counters.”

He said the process did not take much time or result in long delays for the passengers because of the segregation of the passengers to different kiosks. “With today’s experience, we can say that it is not taking much time for the entire process.”

What are the on-arrival procedures?

The official explained the on-arrival procedures for passengers arriving at Kannur International Airport are as under:

Passengers must first go through medical screening, then report to the RT-PCR testing counter.

Once the swab is given, approach the counter for data entry and provide details.

After this, passengers have to go to the immigration counter and then for customs clearance before exiting.

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