South Africa Covid Variant: Centre calls for strict screening for travellers from 3 countries | India News

NEW DELHI: The central government on Thursday told all states and Union Territories (UTs) to ensure rigorous screening and testing of travellers from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where a new Covid-19 variant of serious public health implications has been reported.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to the additional chief secretary/principal secretary/secretary (Health) of all states and UTs saying “multiple cases of a Covid-19 variant 8.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (3 cases), South Africa (6 cases) and Honk Kong (1 case)”. In the letter, the health secretary asked 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, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel,” 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.
(With inputs from agencies)

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