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Travellers from South Africa, Hong Kong must be screened rigorously amid fears of new strain: Centre COVID-19 new strain

Travellers from South Africa, Hong Kong must be screened rigorously amid fears of new strain: Centre

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 25 Nov 2021, 10:32 pm

New Delhi/IBNS: India on Thursday called for rigorous screening and testing of travellers coming from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana where a new variant of COVID-19 has been found with multiple mutations.

This new variant has led to a surge in infections in South Africa and other countries.

In a letter to states and union territories, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan asked them to ensure that samples such travellers turning positive are sent to designated genome sequencing laboratories promptly.

The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per Health Ministry guidelines, he said.

"lt has now been reported by NCDC (National Centre for Disease Control) that 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)," he said in his letter to the states.

"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 letter read.

"lt is therefore imperative that all international travellers travelling from and transiting through these countries, (they are part of the "at risk" Country Category of international travellers coming to India) and also including all other 'at risk' countries indicated in the revised Guidelines for international Arrivals issued by this Ministry dated 11.11.2021, are subjected to rigorous screening and testing, as per MoHFW Guidelines. The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per MoHFW guidelines," it said.

The number of daily infections in South Africa has increased tenfold since the start of the month, said reports.