India reopens to tourists from 99 countries – South Africa isn’t one

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South Africa travel to India
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  • India is reopening to international travellers and has added 99 countries to a newly formed "Category A".
  • Fully vaccinated travellers from countries listed in this category will not need to quarantine upon arrival in India.
  • But South Africa has been excluded from Category A and remains firmly on India’s list of "countries at risk".
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India has added 99 countries to its "Category A" list, which allows fully vaccinated travellers from these destinations to enter without needing to quarantine. South Africa has been excluded and is still defined as a "country at risk".

India suffered a devasting second wave of Covid-19 between April and June, at one point accounting for more than half of the world’s daily cases. Nearly 240,000 Covid-19 deaths were recorded over that three-month period.

But in the last week, India’s rate of daily new confirmed cases has dropped to its lowest level in almost 17 months, with more than half of the population having received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The country is now reopening its borders to international travellers.

India’s latest "guidelines for international arrivals", published on 11 November, updated requirements for specified "countries at risk" and "Category A" countries.

High-risk countries include the United Kingdom (UK), Brazil, Singapore, and South Africa among others. Travellers from these countries, regardless of their vaccination status, are required to quarantine for 7 days, unless they’re included in the newly updated "Category A".

This new category, updated on Saturday, contains 99 countries.

"There are countries which have agreement with India on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates of nationally recognised or WHO [World Health Organisation] recognised vaccines," notes the latest update issued by India’s ministry of health and family welfare.

"Similarly, there are countries which presently do not have such an agreement with India, but they exempt Indian citizens fully vaccinated with nationally recognised or WHO recognised vaccines. On the basis of reciprocity, the travellers from all such countries which provide quarantine-free entry to Indians are allowed certain relaxations on arrival [Category A Countries]."

Although South Africa provides quarantine-free entry to Indian travellers, it has been excluded from Category A. Other high-risk countries, like the UK, Brazil, and Singapore have been included, making South Africa one of the few countries still on the list of "countries at risk" with no Category A exemption.

According to the latest international arrival requirements, South African travellers, even if fully vaccinated, will still need to quarantine. They'll also need to submit to a Covid-19 test on arrival in India and another on the eighth day.

Fully vaccinated travellers from Category A countries need to submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal and upload a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test result obtained within 72 hours. Further, these travellers are only required to "monitor their health for 14 days' post arrival".

Although South Africa has been excluded from the latest Category A listing, India's ministry of health and family welfare added that the exemption category is a "dynamic list and will be updated from time to time".

(Compiled by Luke Daniel)

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