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Rapid PCR test for international fliers at Kolkata airport from Monday

Report to be ready in 45 minutes: Airport director

Sanjay Mandal | Published 06.12.21, 07:52 AM
International passengers wait for their RT-PCR test results after arriving at the city airport.

International passengers wait for their RT-PCR test results after arriving at the city airport.

Telegraph picture

The Kolkata airport authorities will reintroduce the rapid PCR test for arriving international fliers from Monday because passengers now have to wait for six to seven hours at the terminal for the Covid test results, officials said.

The airport officials also said on Sunday that the rates of the tests would be reduced.

Since December 1, the health ministry has made it mandatory for passengers arriving from countries identified as ‘at risk’, following the emergence of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, to undergo Covid tests on arrival at an Indian airport.

At Kolkata airport on Sunday, passengers of a couple of flights that arrived in short intervals alleged delays in getting tested.

Officials said the result of an RT-PCR test took around five hours to be available. Till then a passenger has to stay in the hall designated for such fliers.

“We had earlier introduced the rapid PCR test but because of the high cost, it was withdrawn. From Monday, we are again going to introduce the rapid PCR test for those who would like to pay more and get results early,” C. Pattabhi, airport director, said on Sunday.

The rapid PCR test result will be available in 45 minutes, said the airport director.

The rates of the tests will be slashed from Monday.

The rapid PCR test will cost Rs 3,750, instead of Rs 4,000. And the RT-PCR test will cost Rs 700, instead of Rs 950, said Pattabhi.

A woman who arrived on an Air India flight from London said she had to wait for hours to get her test results.

Kareena Malhotra, who lives in London, has come to Kolkata to meet her parents and in-laws.

“After collecting luggage I walked into the hall and there was chaos. I could not find any airport staff to guide passengers,” said Malhotra.

She had registered online for the test and so was spared standing in a queue. But she said there were other passengers who had to stand in two queues, to get registered and then make payments.

“At Heathrow, there are people to guide passengers,” she said.

The Air India flight arrived in Kolkata around 4.30am and she was stuck at the terminal beyond 11.30am, waiting for the test results.

“The hall was overcrowded and I was scared that I might contract Covid sitting there,” said Malhotra. “There were many elderly and children and no one was telling us when the results will be available.” 

“There was some problem because passengers of two flights had arrived in short intervals. If we see the number of passengers from at-risk countries going up, we will enhance the facilities and may deploy another diagnostic centre for the tests,” said an airport official.

Last updated on 06.12.21, 08:30 AM
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