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Negative RT-PCR report to be made mandatory for passengers coming from China

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NEW DELHI, Dec 28 (PTI): The government is likely to make it mandatory for passengers arriving from China and five other places to have negative RT-PCR reports from next week, official sources said on Wednesday. They also cautioned that the next 40 days will be crucial as India may see a Covid surge in January.

Even if there is a wave, deaths and hospitalisation will be very low, the Health Ministry sources said.

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“Previously, it has been noticed that a new wave of Covid-19 hits India around 30-35 days after it hits East Asia…. This has been a trend,” an official said.

As Covid gets back on the radar with a surge in China and people worry about another wave in India, some scientists have called for a reality check.

The situation in India where a large number of people have been exposed to the virus and also been vaccinated is quite different from that in China. The likelihood of a new big Covid-19 wave in India is very low, an expert said.

As the government tightens Covid-19-related guidelines, the sources said filling up of ‘air suvidha’ forms and 72-hour prior RT-PCR testing may be made mandatory from next week for international passengers coming from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore.

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The sources said 39 international passengers were found positive for Covid-19 out of the 6,000 tested on arrival in the last two days.

Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya will visit the airport in Delhi on Thursday to take stock of testing and screening facilities there, they said.

The proposed tightening of Covid guidelines and warning of a fresh surge come days after health minister Mandaviya asked Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to consider suspending the Bharat Jodo Yatra if Covid-19 protocols could not be followed.

The yatra, currently on winter break, will resume on January 3.

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The government has already sounded an alert and asked states and Union territories to prepare for any eventuality.

Following the surge, the government made random coronavirus testing mandatory for two per cent of passengers arriving in each international flight from Saturday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and health minister Mandaviya have held meetings to assess the country’s preparedness to deal with a fresh surge in cases.

Mock drills were held at health facilities across India on Tuesday to check operational readiness to deal with any spurt in Covid-19 infection, with Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya saying the country has to remain alert and prepared as cases are rising in the world.

The latest spike in cases is being driven by Omicron sub-variant BF.7.

The official sources said the transmissibility of this BF.7 sub-variant is very high. A person infected with the sub-variant can further infect 16 persons.

Anurag Agrawal, director of the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) said the likelihood of a new big Covid-19 wave in India is very low.

“No quick steps are required right now beyond what is already done,” Agrawal told PTI.

Satyajit Rath, adjunct faculty at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, said, “There is no reason to expect that the Chinese situation, which is specifically shaped by the zero-Covid policies that the country implemented for almost three years, will predict anything in India.”

China has been witnessing thousands of cases daily in the last few weeks. On Wednesday, India logged 188 new coronavirus infections with a daily positivity rate of 0.14 percent and the weekly positivity rate recorded at 0.18 per cent, the Union Health Ministry said.

“The Indian situation, with widespread actual infection in addition to vaccination, is quite different. And the Covid virus is after all spreading and therefore mutating in communities worldwide, not just in China, so new variants are emerging everywhere,” Rath told PTI.



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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
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