Against the backdrop of mutants being reported from various countries, including South Africa, the Centre has issued guidelines for international passengers entering India.
The Centre had, on August 31, issued fresh guidelines for international passengers arriving from the UK, Europe, Botswana, China, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Bangladesh, West Asia, and New Zealand, said Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Thursday. These passengers will have to undergo an RT-PCR test on their arrival in the country, he added.
“The earlier guidelines for international travellers from the UK, Europe and West Asia have now been extended to countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, China, Mauritius, Bangladesh and New Zealand. They will have to mandatorily undergo RT-PCR test on their arrival in the country like they did before boarding the flight,” said Bhushan.
South American mutantIndian Council of Medical Research chief Balram Bhargava explained that the South American mutant (Mu, identified in Colombia) is a variant of interest. VK Paul, Niti Aayog Member-Health, added that the risk of mutants will remain, but the country has sufficient tools in place to track and trace them.
The ICMR chief further said that around 300 Delta plus cases had been reported and this variant has been isolated. The Delta variant has been behind the surge of the second wave and the present increase in States like Kerala.
Meanwhile, India reported higher Covid-19 numbers, at 47,092 cases and 509 deaths on Thursday. The country also administered 70 lakh vaccine doses on Thursday (while going to press), aggregating to 66.99 crore doses given so far. Over 16.84 lakh tests were done the previous day, taking the total tests conducted to 52.48 crore so far.
Bhushan said the second wave was not yet over, so it was important to be on guard. At present, there are 39 districts with a positivity rate of more than 10 per cent, while 38 districts have a positivity rate between 5-10 per cent, he said. Kerala has more than one lakh active cases, while four States have 10,000 to 1 lakh active cases – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Other States/UTs have less than 10,000 active cases.
On the vaccination front, at least 54 per cent of adults have received their first dose, and Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim have administered 100 per cent of its adult population with a single dose.
Furthermore, Bhargava said: “Mass gathering should be avoided particularly in the upcoming festive season as there are few districts with high positivity rate. And if it is very critical to gather then the rule of full vaccination should be followed.”
On the issue of children’s vaccination, Bhushan said the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI) has not yet made any recommendation. On Zydus Cadila’s vaccine, expected to be available by October first week, he said the government is in talks with the manufacturer on its pricing and procurement.