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The Centre on Thursday told principal health secretaries of all states governments to ensure ‘rigorous screening and testing’ of all international travellers landing in India from ‘at risk’ countries. 

This comes in view of health officials detecting a new variant of Covid-19, feared to have a high amount of spike mutations unseen before, in South Africa and Hong Kong. 

“It has now been reported by National Centra for Disease Control (NCDC) that multiple cases of a Covid-19 variant B.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana, South Africa and Honk Kong," said Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan in his letter to 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," he added. 

The health secretary went on to say, that it 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), are subjected to “rigorous screening and testing".

The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per guidelines issued by the Union health ministry, he said. 

"You are also requested to ensure that samples of travellers turning positive are sent to the designated IGSLS promptly as per the INSACOG Guidance Document issued by this Ministry dated 15 July, 2021," wrote Bhushan. 

said state surveillance officers must also establish close coordination with their designated/tagged IGSLS for expediting results of genomic analysis, so that necessary public health measures may be undertaken by the states and union territories in case presence of variant of concern or variant of interest is reported by the INSACOG network.

"It is critical for the states and UTs to adhere to the overarching Test-Track Treat-Vaccinate principle to ensure stringent implementation of containment measures as per MoHFW guidelines, and to prevent the spread of VoC/Vols and formation of clusters of cases," he said.


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