India introduces random COVID tests for intl. arrivals, mandatory PCR result for some

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India has reintroduced random COVID-19 testing for all international inbound passengers with mandatory PCR test results required for travelers from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand.

The rules come into effect as cases explode in China and in some other parts of the world.

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The South Asian country’s health ministry said in an updated guideline that two percent of international passengers will be randomly selected to undergo a COVID-19 test at its airports from Saturday.

It is not certain from when travelers from the five named countries will be asked to present a negative PCR test and the ‘Air Suvidha’ form.

Last month, India removed the requirement for the COVID-era self-declaration form ‘Air Suvidha’ detailing vaccinations, PCR tests and travel history.

The mandatory form was introduced in August 2020 to enable contact tracing.

For travelers eligible for random testing, the selection of these passengers can be done by the airline, the guideline issued on Thursday said.

Additionally, passengers exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 during travel can be asked to wear a face mask, and be isolated from other passengers in flight.

While children below 12 are exempt from random testing, those showing symptoms can be asked to undergo testing and isolation.

Thermal screening will be done for all inbound international passengers.

Read the latest updates in our dedicated coronavirus section.

Nearly 37 million people in China may have been infected with COVID-19 on a single day this week, according to estimates from the government’s top health authority, making the country’s outbreak by far the world’s largest.

Beijing’s swift dismantling of COVID-zero restrictions has led to the unfettered spread of the highly contagious omicron variants in a population with low levels of natural immunity.

More than half the residents of Sichuan province, in China’s southwest, and the capital Beijing have been infected, according to the agency’s estimates.

Last week, India’s government asked all states to step up surveillance for any new variants of the coronavirus.

India has reported the most COVID-19 cases in the world after the United States but its tally of confirmed infections has fallen sharply in the past few months.

Data from the World Health Organization shows that infections have inched up in Japan, Korea, the United States, France and Brazil in recent days.

With Reuters

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