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Covid threat: Random testing of foreign arrivals

Set to start tomorrow | No room for complacency against virus, PM calls for hospital readiness

Covid threat: Random testing of foreign arrivals

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Leader of House in Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal and other MPs with masks on Thursday. ANI

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 22

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said Covid was not yet over and directed heightened surveillance, especially at international airports, for the timely detection of transmissible virus variants, if any.

Mask up, Speaker advises MPs

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Thursday advised all MPs to wear masks and follow the Covid protocol completely in view of the increasing number of cases of Covid-19 in several countries, especially in China

Share virus data, WHO tells China

The WHO on Thursday said it was concerned over the Covid situation in China and called on the country to share the data and conduct the studies the world body had earlier asked for

NRIs in PUNJAB fear travel restrictions

Amid fresh concerns over coronavirus, non-resident Indians (NRIs), who are on a visit to Punjab, are apprehensive that global travel restrictions may soon come into force once again, upsetting their itinerary

Don’t panic, exercise caution, says haryana

Haryana Health and Family Welfare Minister Anil Vij said if any Covid guidelines were issued by the Centre, the state would implement these. He said there was no need to panic, but advised caution

Ttake booster shot, follow norms: HP

Sounding an alert, the HP Health Department on Thursday urged people to take their precautionary dose and follow Covid-appropriate behaviour following a surge in cases in China

Chairing a high-level meeting following a Covid surge in China and some other countries, the PM gave five messages to attending ministers, states and the public — increase genome sequencing and Covid testing levels; ensure hospital readiness; follow Covid protocols; mask up in crowds; and administer booster doses with priority to the elderly and the vulnerable.

The meeting decided to go in for random testing of 2 per cent of all foreign arrivals from Saturday to detect any fresh variants rather than ban flights to and from the affected countries. However, kids under 12 have been exempted, if asymptomatic.

Sources said the Covid situation would be monitored and a call taken later whether the Air Suvidha tool should be revived in respect of nations witnessing a surge. Air Suvidha forms mandated inbound international travellers to give details of RT-PCR tests conducted 72 hours prior to travel and their vaccination proof.

At today’s meet, attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and top officials, the PM monitored preparedness of health infrastructure, status of Covid vaccination and emergence of new Covid-19 variants and their public health implications. “The PM cautioned against complacency and advised strict vigil. He said Covid was not over yet and directed officials to strengthen the ongoing surveillance measures, especially at the international airports,” a PMO statement said.

NITI Aayog Member (Health) VK Paul briefed the meeting on India’s steady Covid decline over a year with average daily cases falling to 153 and weekly positivity down to 0.14% in the week ending December 22. However, 5.9 lakh daily average cases had been reported globally for the last six weeks, the PM was told.

The PM stressed the need for readiness of Covid infrastructure at all levels and advised states to audit Covid-specific facilities to ensure operational readiness of hospital infrastructure, including oxygen cylinders, PSA plants, ventilators and human resources. He also directed officials to ramp up testing and genomic sequencing efforts with states already advised to send all positive samples to the genome testing labs.

This is expected to support timely detection of variants, if any, and speed up response.

For citizens, the PM urged Covid-appropriate behaviour at all times in the wake of the festive season ahead and called for masking up in crowded public places.

India has so far detected four cases of BF.7, a subvariant of Omicron, currently driving the Chinese surge and known for high transmissibility. Earlier today, Mandaviya briefed Parliament about the surges in China, US, Japan, France, Greece, Italy and South Korea.

#narendra modi

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