India to tighten COVID-19 testing for tourists amid new variant issues

NEW DELHI, Nov. 26 (Reuters) – India has issued an advisory to all states to rigorously test and screen international travelers from South Africa and other “risk countries” amid concerns over a new coronavirus variant, after it was released earlier this year. some of his travel restrictions had been relaxed for months.

The federal health ministry said reports of mutations in the new variant, identified as B.1.1.529, had “serious public health implications.”

“This variant is said to have a significant number of mutations and thus has serious public health implications for the country, given the recently relaxed visa restrictions and the opening up of international travel,” Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to states. Thursday late.

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While some major Asian countries rushed to tighten border controls and restrict travellers, India had not yet made a report, a senior government source said. read more

“This has not been fully investigated by the health ministry,” the source told Reuters, refusing to be identified in accordance with the policy.

The federal ministries of health and foreign affairs have not responded to a request from Reuters for comment on whether India will ban foreign travellers.

On Friday, UK Health Security Agency said the new variant has a spike protein that is dramatically different from that in the original coronavirus on which COVID-19 vaccines are based. And it could make existing vaccines less effective.

Britain has banned flights from six African countries and has asked British travelers from those destinations to quarantine.

India, the world’s second worst-hit country by COVID-19, posted the smallest increase in new cases in a year and a half this week, due to rising vaccinations and antibodies in much of the population from previous infections.

The total number of coronavirus cases in the country reached 34.56 million on Friday. India’s daily caseload has halved since September and the country reported 10,549 new cases on Friday.

Earlier this month, India identified 10 countries that are “at risk”, including Europe, Britain, China, South Africa and New Zealand. And has opened its borders to 99 countries in total.

Indian stocks fell more than 2% on Friday as investors fled risky assets in panic over the impact of the new variant. The losses were in line with the sharp declines in the Asian markets. read more

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Reporting by Neha Arora; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Giles Elgood

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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