As the threat of new Covid-19 strain 'Omicron' rises with several countries reporting fresh cases, India has tightened guidelines for international passengers. As per the revised order, the new guidelines now require all travellers (irrespective of vaccination status) coming to India from 'at-risk' countries to mandatorily undergo COVID-19 testing at airport on arrival in addition to pre-departure COVID-19 testing undertaken 72 hours before the departure.
Here are 10 points on India's new Covid rules for international passengers:
1) For passengers found positive in Covid testing, they will be isolated and treated as per the clinical management protocol besides their samples also taken for whole genome sequencing.
2) The passengers found negative can depart the airport but have to undergo home isolation for 7 days, followed by repeat testing on 8th day of arrival in India, followed by 7 days of self-monitoring.
3) Further, in view of reports of increasing number of countries reporting the Omicron variant, the present guidelines also mandate that 5% of the travellers coming from countries which are not in the ‘at risk category’ will also be tested on random basis at the airports for COVID-19.
4) Samples of all individuals testing positive for Covid-19, either at airports under home isolation or during random sampling, will also be sent for whole genomic sequencing at identified INSACOG network laboratories to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2 variants (including Omicron).
5) States have also been advised for rigorous surveillance of international passengers, enhanced testing, monitoring the hotspots of COVID -19, ensuring augmentation of health infrastructure, including undertaking samples for whole genome sequencing, the ministry said in a statement.
6) There are 12 ‘countries at-risk’ identified by the Indian government currently, depending on the Omicron cases reported there. They are: UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.
7) Those coming from countries considered not at risk and whose samples have tested negative have been advised to monitor themselves carefully for at least two weeks.
8) Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned on Monday that the Omicron coronavirus variant is likely to spread internationally, posing a "very high" global risk of infection surges that could have "severe consequences" some areas.
9) "Omicron has an unprecedented number of spike mutations, some of which are concerning for their potential impact on the trajectory of the pandemic," the WHO said.
10) WHO on Friday declared Omicron a "Variant of Concern", placing the new strain into the most troubling category of Covid variants, along with Delta, and its weaker rivals Alpha, Beta and Gamma.
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