Covid: Govt Starts Random Tests For Int’l Flyers, Variant Behind China Surge Found In India

Covid-19 is not over yet, said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday as the government sounded an alert following a surge of coronavirus cases in neighbouring China and other countries. With Christmas and New Year festivities around the corner, state governments have been asked to step up efforts to curb any possible Covid spread as India brought back random testing at airports for international passengers.

The move came amid growing concerns over the spread of Covid in China following the recent easing of strict lockdown measures. Hospitals and medical facilities in China have been overwhelmed with patients. One epidemiologist has projected that 60 per cent of the country’s population could end up being infected over the course of the next few months.

Explained | What Is BF.7 Strain? The Omicron Subvariant Responsible For China’s COVID Surge

Covid-19 In India: Top Developments You Need To Know

  • India has been witnessing a steady decline in cases, with average daily infections falling to 158 in the week ending December 19. On Wednesday, India recorded 131 fresh Covid cases and three deaths. The number of active cases came down to 3,408.
  • Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya chaired a Covid review meeting with experts and senior officials, asserting the need for continued surveillance. “Covid is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation,” the minister said.
  • The government said random sample testing would be conducted at airports for passengers arriving from China and other countries.
  • People have been advised to wear masks in crowded places and the government appealed to citizens to get booster doses. It also advised the elderly and those with comorbidities to take precautions.
  • The government has instructed states to ensure genome sequencing of all positive cases in the country. States have been asked to send Covid samples of all positive patients to labs runs by INSACOG, a forum under the Health Ministry that studies and monitors various strains of coronavirus.
  • Four cases of the Omicron subvariant BF.7, the strain behind China’s current surge of Covid cases, have been detected in India — two in Gujarat and two in Odisha. In Gujarat, both the patients, who had foreign travel history, have recovered, PTI reported.
  • The new Omicron subvariant BF.7 is known to spread very fast and has a shorter incubation period.
  • Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar said the government will also start screening international passengers at Bengaluru airport in view of the sudden spurt in Covid cases globally.
  • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will convene an emergency meeting on Thursday and said that the government was keeping a watch on the Covid-19 situation.
  • Gujarat Health Minister Rushikesh Patel has also asked officials to conduct “compulsory” testing of travellers arriving in the state from other countries.

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