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The central government on Friday included Hong Kong and Israel in the list of countries from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India.

The nations that are currently on the ‘at-risk’ list of India are – European countries, including the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel. 

This comes a day after the government told principal health secretaries of all state governments to ensure ‘rigorous screening and testing’ of all international travellers landing in India from ‘at risk’ countries in view of the emergence of new Covid-19 variant B.1.1.529.

“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 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.

According to officials, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) is closely tracking the new variant and its presence has not been detected in the country yet.

It has been reported to have been found in samples from South Africa, Israel, Hong Kong and Belgium.

Several countries have been quick to re-impose travel restrictions in light of this development. 

The UK banned flights from South Africa and five other southern African countries effective at noon on Friday and announced that anyone who had recently arrived from those countries would be asked to take a coronavirus test.

Germany said its flight ban could be enacted as soon as Friday night.

Italy's health ministry also announced measures to ban entry for anyone who has been in seven southern African nations — South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini — in the past 14 days due. The Netherlands and the Czech Republic planned similar measures.

The Japanese government announced that Japanese nationals travelling from Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho will have to quarantine at government-dedicated accommodations for 10 days and take Covid-19 tests on the third, sixth and tenth days.

 

 

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