India to randomly test international visitors for COVID

Thermal screening for all international travelers from Saturday 

New Delhi: Prime minister Narendra Modi Thursday chaired a high-level meeting on the Covid situation in the country.

PM Modi cautioned against complacency and advised strict vigil as he reiterated that the Covid is not over yet. The prime minister also directed officials to strengthen the ongoing surveillance measures, especially at international airports.

Union home minister Amit Shah, health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia along with top officials are present in the meeting to assess the Covid preparedness in the country. The meeting comes amid a massive surge in COVID cases across China.

India has begun randomly testing international passengers arriving at its airports for COVID, the  health minister said Thursday, citing an increase in cases in neighboring China.

Mansukh Mandaviya announced the new rule in Parliament, where he also urged state governments to increase surveillance for any new coronavirus variants and send samples of all positive cases to genome sequencing laboratories.

Mandaviya also asked the public to wear masks and maintain social distance, even though there are no official mandates for either.

India relaxed its mask-wearing rules earlier this year after coronavirus cases began dropping sharply. It has reported the most COVID cases in the world since the pandemic began, but confirmed infections have fallen sharply in the past few months.

According to health ministry data, India currently has about 3,400 active coronavirus cases.

Cases have surged in neighboring China since it relaxed its harsh restrictions earlier this month following rare public protests.

Mandaviya said the Indian government has no plans yet to halt flights from countries where new cases have been reported. The increase in cases in China has also prompted Indian health experts to issue advisories for the public to wear face masks and receive vaccine booster doses.

On Thursday, India’s top doctors’ body, the Indian Medical Association, also appealed to people to wear masks in all public places and get vaccine boosters. It urged people to avoid public gatherings such as weddings, political and social meetings, and international travel.

“As of now, the situation is not alarming and therefore there is no need to panic. Prevention is better than cure,” it said in a statement.

India, a country of nearly 1.4 billion people, has administered more than 2.2 billion COVID vaccine doses, but only 27 percent of the population has received a third booster dose.

Image courtesy of (Image: PIB)

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