Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told parliament amid Covid concerns that random sampling of international travelers has started at airports

Airports are in the spotlight as India grapples with the possible spread of the new coronavirus. (representative photo)

New Delhi:
The central government told parliament today that random sampling of incoming international passengers for Covid testing at airports has begun. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also convene a review conference based on the new surge in China.

  1. Two percent of travelers will have to provide samples, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said today. They will be allowed to leave and undergo RT-PCR testing; if there is a positive case, they will be contacted and a decision on treatment will be made, the protocol says.

  2. The government has no plans to stop flights from countries reporting new cases. “We do not have any direct flights to and from China. We are working hard to stop the virus from entering India and travel should not be interrupted,” the minister stressed.

  3. As for masks and any other strict measures in light of the recent surge in China, Mr Mandaviya said states had been “advised to ensure compliance with protocols”, but had not yet been mandated.

  4. The center is also asking all states to ensure that the genomes of positive cases are sequenced for new variants of the virus.

  5. This is in line with what the minister said after the panel meeting on Wednesday. Administration officials have been saying there is no need to panic.

  6. In view of the upcoming festive season, states have been asked to remain vigilant and raise awareness on masks, sanitizers and social distancing,” the minister told Lok Sabha in Hindi.

  7. A subvariant of the Omicron variant, known as BF.7, also exists in India, which is fueling a new surge in China. India has reported four cases – the first in July and the latest in November. The overall number of cases in India remains relatively low, with fewer than 200 cases per day for several days.

  8. The BF.7 variant has been detected in several other countries, including the US and UK, as well as European countries such as Belgium, Germany, France and Denmark.

  9. According to the Press Trust of India news agency, BF.7 is a subline of Omicron variant BA.5, which is the most contagious, with a short incubation period and strong reinfection ability.

  10. Central sense of urgency caused political dispute, as the minister has written to Rahul Gandhi in Congress that his Bharat Jodo Yatra will be suspended if Covid protocols are not followed. Congress, while saying it will abide by whatever norms are announced, sees a conspiracy in the mass contact marches currently underway in Haryana state and will enter the capital Delhi on December 24.

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