Amid new emergence of strain of COVID-19, the Union Health Ministry said a negative RT-PCR result not older than 72 hours has been made mandatory for passengers travelling to India from seven more countries, including, China and South Africa. The move comes after the discovery of a new variant - C.1.2 - which could be more infectious and has shown signs of evading protection provided by vaccines.
According to a latest guideline by Ministry of Health, South Africa, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe have been added to the list today. Before these countries, the rule was only applicable for arrivals from UK, Europe and Middle East.
The new variant was first detected in South Africa in May. Later it was found in China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritius, England, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland.
As per the new guidelines, only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the flights to India and on arrival, they will again be tested for Covid through RT-PCR test. The ministry has also asked the states to send a fixed percentage of samples of positive cases among international travellers for genome surveillance.
C.1.2. evolved from C.1., a lineage of the virus that dominated infections in the first wave of the virus in South Africa in mid-2020. It has between 44 and 59 mutations from the original virus detected in Wuhan in China.
The new COVID-19 variant C.1.2, which was first reported in South Africa, has not been found in India so far, government sources told ANI. The WHO has said that till date there are 100 sequences of C.1.2 reported globally from the earliest reports from South Africa and currently it does not appear to be "increasing in circulation".