Make negative RT-PCR report mandatory for inbound travellers: Health experts

File Photo: Aman Farooq/Gk

As the number of travellers testing COVID positive on arrival has seen an upsurge, health experts and tourism players have pitched for making negative RT-PCR test reports mandatory for all inbound travellers including tourists.

Head, Department of Community Medicine SMHS, Dr Salim Khan, said that many states and Union Territories have made RT-PCR report mandatory for all incoming travellers. “It will ensure that the inbound travellers are not carrying the virus. In Kashmir we have seen a sharp spike and unfortunately many travellers have been detected to be infected with COVID. Therefore it becomes necessary that infected persons are not allowed to mingle with people, particularly this time the number of arrivals is good as the government is going all out to promote tourism,” he said.

“Kashmir is witnessing an upsurge in cases and the situation is turning worse. More worrying aspect is the heavy influx of tourists and travellers through surface links, many outside laborers from neighbouring states where the infection is on rise are entering Kashmir without any testing which is a cause of concern,” Dr. Khan said.

Critical care expert, Dr. Showkat Shah, also echoed similar views of making RT-PCR mandatory for inbound travellers.

“We have seen many cases where an inbound traveller’s  rapid antigen test on arrival was negative and later he was tested positive. Therefore in this situation when the cases are rising, it becomes imperative upon the administration to ensure that the COVID infected travellers are not allowed. In this situation a prior RT-PCR negative test must be made mandatory.”

The tourism players have also demanded making RT-PCR compulsory for tourists for the larger interest of people of Kashmir.

“Due to rising number of Covid cases and the huge tourist influx, it’s important to follow this practice to stop the further spread of virus and send a goodwill message to tourists intending to travel to the valley,” a statement issued by Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) reads.

“Tourists arriving with COVID-19 negative reports should be required to give their sample for RT-PCR testing on arrival at the airport. The present system of RAT at Srinagar Airport allows the tourist to check in at the hotels which puts the ground handlers at huge risk.”

“Covid testing on arrival is worrying us since we remain in direct contact with the positive cases during their stay in Kashmir,” it said.

“RAT reports of travellers are delayed at the airport. By the time reports are dispatched, ground handlers have already come in contact with the visitors. We want negative RT-PCR reports to be produced by every visitor on his or her arrival at the Airport,” TAAK said.