India to tighten COVID-19 testing for tourists amid new variant
India issued an advisory to all states to test and screen international travellers from South Africa and other at risk countries amidst concerns over a new COVID-19 variant, after easing some of its travel restrictions earlier this month.
The federal health ministry said, reports of mutations in the new variant, identified as B.1.1.529, had serious public health implications.
According to health secretary, Rajesh Bhushan, “This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and has serious public health implications for the country in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel.”
The new variant has a spike protein that was dramatically different to the one in the original coronavirus that COVID-19 vaccines are based on and it could make existing vaccines less effective.
Britain has banned flights from six African countries, and asked returning British travellers from those destinations to quarantine.
India, the world’s second-worst affected country by COVID-19, posted the smallest rise in new cases.
The country’s total cases of the coronavirus 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 at risk that includes Europe, Britain, China, South Africa, and New Zealand, among others and has opened its borders to 99 countries overall.
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