India travel: Air Suvidha forms likely to return as Covid cases surge

Random testing of international passengers arriving at country's airports has already started


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Published: Thu 22 Dec 2022, 6:45 PM

The ministry of health in India is mulling the possibility of re-introducing 'Air Suvidha' forms for international arriving passengers with an aim to protect the country against new variant of Covid-19 that is surging in countries like Chin and some other countries.

Details of RT-PCR test conducted 72 hours prior to travel or complete vaccination proof have to be provided by travellers. A decision on this will be taken after monitoring the situation for a few weeks.

The move comes following a meeting chaired by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday to review the Covid situation in the country, in view of a sudden spurt in cases in China and some other countries.

India has already begun a 2% random sampling of passengers arriving at the country's international airports as local surveillance has been stepped up.

"The health ministry is examining reintroduction of mandatory 'air suvidha' forms for international arrivals with details of RT-PCR test conducted 72 hours prior to travel or complete vaccination proof for passengers coming from China and other countries reporting high number of Covid cases," an official source told PTI.

The source said that "a decision in this regard will only be taken after monitoring the Covid situation in the country for a few weeks and if warranted, as a matter of abundant precaution in view of increasing trajectory of cases globally".

In an earlier meeting, experts and senior officials stressed on the need for continued surveillance . "Covid is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation," Mandaviya had said.

The surveillance system for whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track variants through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network should be strengthened, he had said.

States and union territories have been requested to send samples of all Covid positive cases to laboratories on a daily basis for sequencing and track new variants, if any. Besides, implementation of thermal screening is also being explored.

India has been witnessing a steady decline in cases with the average daily cases falling to 158 in the week ending December 19, the minister had been briefed in a presentation. However, a consistent rise in global daily average cases has been reported for the last six weeks, he had been informed. India logged 185 new coronavirus infections, while the active cases declined to 3,402, according to health ministry data updated on Thursday.


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