On Thursday, the central government directed all the states and Union Territories (Uts) to do a mandatory screening and testing of travellers from the three respective countries; South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana. A new Covid-19 variant with new mutations is causing serious public health implications in South Africa.
"Multiple cases of a COVID-19 variant 8.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (3 cases), South Africa (6 cases) and Hong Kong(1 case)," stated Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in an open letter to the additional chief secretary/principal secretary/secretary (Health) of all states and Uts. The health secretary further requested them to ensure that samples of travellers turning positive are sent to designated genome sequencing laboratories promptly.
"This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, given recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel," Raj Bhushan mentioned in the letter.
"It is therefore imperative that all international travellers travelling from and transiting through these countries, (they are part of the "at-risk" country category of international travellers coming to India) and also including all other at risk' countries indicated in the revised guidelines for international arrivals issued by this ministry dated November 11, 2021, are subjected to rigorous screening and testing, as per MoHFW guidelines," the letter read.
The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per MoHFW guidelines.
The new variant of Covid-19 feared to have a high amount of spike mutations unseen before, has been detected in South Africa.