Officials at the Bengaluru airport were simply confused by the implementation of the rules Chaos and confusion reigned at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) here on Wednesday, the opening day of the union government’s revised guidelines for inbound abroad travelers.
All international travelers visiting India must produce negative Covid test reports and give their travel history for the past 14 days. Passengers from Omicron-hit countries must also undergo Covid tests upon arrival in India. No inbound abroad traveler can move to the airport or take connecting flights before the test results are out.
Airport Authorities at the city airport were simply overwhelmed by the implementation of the rules. By Tuesday night, as many as 1,600 international travelers arrived at the KIA on eight flights. Of them, 1,191 tourists were from 12 at-risk countries and the remaining 409 were from other nations or domestic flyers who had flown from international destinations to other Indian airports before arriving at Kempegowda International Airport.
All of them tested negative, according to Dr. Thippeswamy A, the health officer of the Bengaluru Rural district, where the airport is placed. Travelers can take the rapid RT-PCR test (it costs Rs 3,000 and gives the result in an hour) or go for the regular test, which costs Rs 500 and takes five to six hours to deliver the result.
But pictures from the Bengaluru airport said a different story.
Although the district health office deployed 25 staffers and four doctors at the airport for the surveillance of both domestic and international travelers, there was only one testing counter, run by the city-based lab Auriga Research Pvt Ltd, to screen all the passengers.
- Social-distancing measures went for a toss as passengers stood in serpentine queues breathing on each other. Seating arrangements were grossly inadequate.
Many travelers took to social media to narrate the “absolute chaos” at the Bengaluru airport. One Twitter user told: “Wait time at Kempegowda International
The airport is infinite for travelers arriving from overseas. The queue time is longer than that for Balaji Darshana. Sad to see people waiting outside to receive their loved ones.”
Another traveler tweeted thus: “There is lack of proper knowledge, coordination and there are redundant data checks. We still haven’t gotten out of the airport because even rapid tests are taking more than two hours to get the results. Sort yourselves!”
A third traveler tweeted: “I have booked and paid but the form did not allow me to pick a date and slot. No reply on email either. I have got the registration numbers only without date and time.”
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In a statement released late on Wednesday evening, Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) said the service provider running the laboratory at the airport experienced “some delays” in processing test results owing to a high volume of passengers who had to undergo RT-PCR testing.
Curiously, the BIAL said 1,228 international tourists visited the Bengaluru airport from at-risk countries during the first 14 hours of Wednesday. This figure is a tad higher than that given by Dr. Thippeswamy (1,191). None explained the mismatch. Two percent of travelers from non-risk countries were also picked up for casual testing.