The government of the South Indian State of Kerala has announced Covid-19 RT-PCR test free for those coming in from abroad, including for passengers from the UAE.
The announcement was made by the Kerala Health Minister K.K.Shailaja, who said that all international passengers will continue to be tested on arrival as per the latest travel protocol by the Indian Federal Government.
This new requirement of the mandatory Covid-19 RT-PCR test became effective on 23rd February, and several expats have already sought exemption from the test fee, which is being charged at different rates at different airports in India.
In Kerala, the cost of the test is capped at Rs.1,700 (Dh.84.74). Indian expats have demanded exemptions in Covid-19 test for travelling from UAE to India, and this further gathered steam with social workers and community groups joining the campaign.
Social workers began campaigning for government funding for the test while few expats had delayed their travel plans waiting for a change in rule.
Although now the test is free of cost, the minister emphasized that all international passengers will have to test on arrival, given, the high number of cases, and the spread of new variants of the virus.
However, social workers in the UAE have welcomed the move by the government.
“Kerala is the first state to announce free on-arrival test for expats. I congratulate minister Shailaja teacher and the government for making this welcoming decision. This will be a big relief to expatriates,” said K.V. Shamsudheen of Pravisi Bandhu Welfare Trust, based in Sharjah. He had written a letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan to stop the “self-paid” test on arrival in India.
“Kerala is always a good example in supporting the Non-Resident Indians. I hope the Kerala model will be followed by other states in India,” Shamsudheen added.