NEW DELHI: The central government on Thursday told the states and UTs to ensure rigorous screening and testing of international travelers from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where a new Covid-19 variant of serious public health implications has been reported.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to the additional chief secretary/principal secretary/secretary (Health) of all states and UTs saying “multiple cases of a Covid-19 variant 8.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (3 cases), South Africa (6 cases) and Honk Kong (1 case)” and asked them to ensure that samples of travelers turning positive are sent to designated genome sequencing laboratories promptly.
“Imperative that all international travelers traveling from and transiting through these nations and including other ‘at risk’ nations indicated in revised guidelines for arrivals are subjected to rigorous screening and testing. Their contacts must also be tracked and tested,” reads the letter.
This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel.
The contacts of these international travelers must also be closely tracked and tested as per MoHFW guidelines.
(With inputs from agencies)