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New Covid variant: PM Modi asks officials to review plans for easing international travel restrictions

New Delhi, Nov 27 ( KINS): Highlighting the need for monitoring all international arrivals in the view of the new Covid variant Omicron, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked officials to review plans for easing international travel restrictions in light of the emerging new evidence.

PM Modi was briefed about the Covid-19 situation across the world, including the new Variant of Concern ‘Omicron’ along with its characteristics and the impact seen in various countries.

According to a release by the Prime Minister’s Office, the Prime Minister highlighted the need for monitoring all international arrivals, their testing as per guidelines, with a specific focus on countries identified ‘at risk’. He also asked officials to review plans for easing of international travel restrictions in light of the emerging new evidence.

The Prime Minister also directed officials to work closely with state governments to ensure that there is proper awareness at the state and district level. He directed that intensive containment and active surveillance should continue in clusters reporting higher cases and required technical support be provided to states which are reporting higher cases presently.

PM Modi was given an overview of the sequencing efforts in the country and the variants circulating in the country. He directed that genome sequencing samples be collected from international travellers and community as per norms, tested through the network of labs already established under INSACOG and early warning signal identified for Covid-19 management. He also spoke about the need to increase the sequencing efforts and make it more broad-based.

Amid rising concern about a new COVID-19 variant ‘Omicron’ first detected in South Africa, India also added several countries to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing for infection.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare adds Hong Kong and Israel to the list of countries from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing considering the detection of new COVID variant ‘Omicron’ in South Africa.

Countries from where the travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India are South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Israel, Hong Kong, countries in Europe including the UK.

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. (KINS)

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