Two per cent of the total passengers on International flights will undergo random Covid testing on arrival across all Indian airports from today, December 24. Union Civil Aviation Ministry took the decision to minimize the risk of ingress of the new variant of the virus in the country.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to the Civil Aviation Secretary, Rajiv Bansal that such travellers in each flight shall be identified by the concerned airlines and they must preferably be from different countries.
Such travellers will be allowed to leave the airport after submitting their samples. If positive, the report will be shared with the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme and the concerned State for a follow-up action.
Mr. Bhushan said, such samples should also be sent for genomic testing at the designated Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium laboratory network.
He said, while the Civil Aviation Ministry will coordinate the testing, its cost will be borne by the Health Ministry. He also requested the Ministry to conduct these tests at subsidised and uniform rates across all international airports.
In the letter, Mr. Bhushan said, as a result of sustained efforts and focus on a fivefold strategy of test- track-treat-vaccination and adherence to COVID appropriate behaviour, India has so far been able to effectively restrict the spread of COVID-19 transmission in the country.
He said, globally the number of new cases of COVID-19 continues to remain alarmingly high, with around 5.9 lakh daily new cases reported on average during the week ending 19th of December.