Healthcare workers collect swab samples from passengers as others wait for their turn upon arrival at a railway station during a rapid antigen testing drive for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Mumbai, India, November 29, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

India steps ups Covid-19 testing for international flyers

Decision comes after a man who recently returned from South Africa tested positive for Covid-19

Reuters November 29, 2021

India will make on-arrival Covid-19 testing mandatory for flyers from more than a dozen countries, including South Africa and Britain where the Omicron variant has been detected, the health ministry said on Monday.

The decision will be effective from Dec. 1 and comes after a man who recently returned from South Africa tested positive for Covid-19, though it is not yet clear which strain of the coronavirus he contracted.

Further investigations are ongoing, an official said.

Read more: South African doctor says patients with Omicron variant have 'very mild' symptoms

"The patient is currently under observation and is displaying mild symptoms," Pradeep Awate, a senior health official in Maharashtra state where the man is isolating, told Reuters.

"Still, we are monitoring him out of abundant caution."

The federal health ministry said all arrivals from Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel will be tested at the airport using the RT-PCR method.

Additionally, 5% of all travellers from other countries will be randomly tested, the ministry added.

Also read: Omicron poses very high global risk, world must prepare: WHO

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already asked officials to review a decision to resume all scheduled international flights from Dec. 15. Currently only special flights as per bilateral or other agreements are flying.

India reported 8,309 new coronavirus infections on Monday, taking the total to 34.58 million - only behind the tally of the United States. Deaths rose by 236 to 468,790, health ministry data showed.


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