The health ministry of India has issued new guidelines in the wake of rising global threat from a new variant of coronavirus Omicron.
The new guidelines require all travelers, irrespective of COVID-19 vaccination status, to mandatorily undergo COVID-19 testing at the airport on arrival.
This would be stricter in the case of travellers arriving from countries designated as ‘at-risk’, where the Omicron variant of coronavirus has been detected.
The RT-PCR test on arrival would be in addition to the one taken 72 hours before the departure.
Passengers found positive will be isolated and quarantined. Their samples will be taken and sent for genome sequencing to identify the presence of Omicron variant.
Those who test negative will have to maintain home quarantine for seven days, following which they will have to take a test again on Day 8.
Also read: The West didn’t share its vaccines; is Omicron the result?
The guidelines for travellers coming to India also said that 5% people from countries not designated as ‘at-risk’ will be randomly selected and tested to detect any possibility of virus, as more and more countries are newly discovering the presence of the Omicron variant.
People coming from such countries are also advised to monitor themselves carefully for at least two weeks.
The B.1.1.529 variant (Omicron) was first reported from South Africa on November 24. It was classified as a Variant of Concern (VoC) in view of large number mutations, which may make it more transmissible and more resistant to human immune system and even vaccination.
States have also been advised for rigorous surveillance of international passengers, enhanced testing, monitoring hotspots of COVID -19, ensuring augmentation of health infrastructure, including undertaking samples for whole genome sequencing.