Covid tests on incoming international travelers have started at airports, the central government told the parliament today. PM Narendra Modi will also hold a review meeting after China’s new spurt.
Two percent of travellers will have to give samples, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said today. If there’s a positive result, they’ll be contacted and a decision made about their treatment.
There’s no plan to stop flights from countries where new cases have been reported. ‘We don’t have any direct flights to or from China,” the minister underlined. “It is our endeavor to stop the virus from coming to India, and that travel should not be interrupted either.”
Mr Mandaviya said states have been “advised to ensure protocol is followed,” but there isn’t a mandate yet.
To understand the virus’ new variants, the Center has also asked all states to do genome sequencing.
That’s what the minister said during a meeting with experts on Wednesday. There’s no need to panic, government officials say.
Speaking in Hindi, the minister said states should be aware of masks, sanitizers, and social distance ahead of the New Year.
India, too, has a sub-variant of Omicron, called BF.7, that’s driving the new surge in China. Four cases have been reported in India so far – the first in July and the latest in November. Overall cases in India have continued to be relatively meagre at fewer than 200 daily for several days now.
BF.7 has been detected in several countries, including the US, UK, Belgium, Germany, France, and Denmark.
The BF.7 sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5 has the strongest infection ability since it’s highly transmissible, has a shorter incubation period, and can cause reinfection.
In response, the minister wrote to Rahul Gandhi to suspend his Bharat Jodo Yatra if Covid protocols aren’t followed. Congress says it’ll follow any norms as announced, but sees a conspiracy against its mass contact march through Haryana and into Delhi on December 24. Rahul Gandhi has called the recent government moves “excuses to stop the yatra”.
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