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Mandaviya reviewed COVID testing, screening facility at Delhi IGI Airport

New Delhi [India], January 2 (ANI): Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya on Monday reviewed the COVID-19 testing and screening facility at Delhi's Indira Gandhi International airport and said that the Centre is taking every possible initiative to ensure the spread of COVID variants in the country.

Speaking to the media here at the airport, Mandaviya said that the government is maintaining vigil to make sure that no new variant comes into the country.

"COVID cases are rising in the world. The government is maintaining vigil to ensure that no new variant comes into the country. Inbound international travellers have been divided into two categories. One is high-risk countries where the number of COVID cases is more and the other is the general category where the cases are lesser," he said.

"RT-PCR report has been made compulsory in Air Suvidha for high-risk country passengers. They are checked here at the airport. 2 per cent of the passengers coming from the general category countries are randomly tested here so that if any variant comes in the country, we could be vigilant," the Minister added.

Mandaviya said that genome sequencing is being done for the cases which are tested positive.

"If the cases turn out to be positive, their genome sequencing is done. Every possible preparation is being made for the variant that is detected in the genome sequencing so that COVID does not spread in the country and remains safe. Every possible initiative is being taken by the Central government," he said.

Earlier, the PIB Fact Check flagged the media reports speculating that the evolving Omicron sub-variant may be fatal for the brain, and termed them as "misleading".

Now mandatory pre-departure RT-PCR testing has been introduced for passengers arriving in India on all international flights from China, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand and Japan. The test has to be conducted within 72 hrs prior to undertaking the journey, said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in a press release issued on January 2, 2023.

The ministry release issued by Lav Agarwal, additional secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, said the ministry has decided to revise and update its existing guidelines for International arrivals in view of the rising COVID cases in the above-mentioned countries.

The release said that the Ministry of Civil Aviation's Air Suvidha Portal has to be made operational for passengers in all international flights from these countries, with a provision to allow international travellers arriving in India to submit negative RT-PCR test reports as well as to submit self-declaration form on this portal.

The Ministry through the release said that the agreement will be in practice with effect from 10 am on Sunday, January 1, 2023, and that the existing post-arrival random testing of two per cent of travellers (irrespective of the port of departure) shall continue. (ANI)