As Omicron variant cases continue to surface in other nations mostly in European countries, the fresh guidelines for international passengers arriving in India will be effective from December 1, 2021, onwards. The revised Guidelines for International arrivals were issued by the Centre on November 28. The Centre on Tuesday advised states and UTs to ramp up testing and undertake effective surveillance of international passengers even as it asserted that no case of the new variant has been found as yet in the country.
Revised guidelines for international passengers | Top Points
- The updated guidelines require all travelers (irrespective of COVID-19 vaccination status) coming to India from countries identified as ‘countries at-risk’ to mandatorily undergo post-arrival COVID-19 testing at the airport on arrival.
- This will be in addition to pre-departure COVID-19 testing undertaken 72 hours before the departure.
- For passengers found positive in these tests, they will be isolated and treated as per the clinical management protocol besides their samples also taken for Whole Genome Sequencing.
- The passengers found negative can depart the airport but have to undergo home isolation for 7 days, followed by repeat testing on the 8th day of arrival in India, followed by 7 days of self-monitoring.
- The guidelines also mandate that 5% of the travelers coming from countries that are not in the ‘at risk category’ will also be tested on a random basis at the airports for Covid.
- Samples of all individuals testing positive for Covid-19, either at airports under home isolation or during random sampling, will also be sent for Whole Genomic Sequencing at identified INSACOG network laboratories to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2 variants (including Omicron).
- In Goa, all International passengers from any of the 12 countries (at risk nations) affected by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus will have to stay in isolation for 14 days.
Delhi’s Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Tuesday said asked all authorities concerned to ensure strict compliance of guidelines prescribed for international arrivals issued by MoHFW with effect from December 1 till further orders.
Japan and France report first confirmed case of Omicron
Japan and France confirmed their first cases of the new variant of the coronavirus on Tuesday as countries around the world scrambled to close their doors or find ways to limit its spread while scientists study how damaging it might be.
The World Health Organization has warned that the global risk from the omicron variant is “very high” based on early evidence, saying it could lead to surges with “severe consequences.”
Omicron first reported in South Africa
The B.1.1.529 variant (Omicron) was first reported to WHO from South Africa on November 24, 2021 and the WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) on November 26, 2021 has classified it as Variant of Concern (VoC) in view of large number mutations noted in the variant, some of which may make this mutation more transmissible and have immune escape behaviour. | READ MORE
The emerging evidence on the issue is being monitored by Union Ministry of Health.
States have also been advised for rigorous surveillance of international passengers, enhanced testing, monitoring the hotspots of COVID -19, ensuring augmentation of health infrastructure, including undertaking samples for whole-genome sequencing.
While Union Ministry of Health continues to closely follow the evolving nature of the pandemic, strict adherence to COVID Appropriate Behavior (use of mask/face cover, physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene) and undertaking Covid-19 vaccination remain the mainstay for managing COVID-19 at the community level.
Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, 6 passengers, who arrived from South Africa or other high-risk countries had tested positive for COVID. Out of 6, one each is from Mumbai Corporation, Kalyan-Dombivali Corporation, Meera-Bhayandar Corporation and Pune while 2 are from Nigeria in Pimpri-Chinchwad corporation.
Their samples have been sent for genomic sequencing and their contact tracing exercise is underway. All these passengers, though tested Covid-19 positive, are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, the state government said.
In Uttarakhand, Chief Minister said that they will increase the random testing and also number of other testings. Our aim is to have 25,000 tests per day. Necessary precautions at Railway Stations and Airports will be taken,” he added.
Europe continues to report more Omicron cases
On Tuesday, 42 cases of Omicron variant were confirmed in 10 European Union countries, Reuters quoted the head of the EU’s public health agency as saying.
Authorities in the 27-nation EU were analysing another six “probable” cases, Andrea Ammon, who chairs the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control (ECDC), said.
She said the confirmed cases were mild or without symptoms, although in younger age groups.
Europe could approve vaccine against new variant
The EU drug regulator Tuesday said it could approve vaccines adapted to target the Omicron variant of the coronavirus within three to four months if needed, but that existing shots would continue to provide protection.