Travelers from countries including China must show a negative test for Covid-19 to enter the country.
India has made it mandatory for travelers from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand to report negative COVID-19 tests, the Union Health Minister said.
Travelers from those countries will be quarantined if they show symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive, Health Minister Mansukh Mandavia tweeted on Saturday, as he posted photos of the tests being carried out at the international airport in the capital, New Delhi.
India — which has the world’s second-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases behind the United States at 44 million to date — on Saturday began testing roughly 2 percent of international travelers arriving at its airports for Covid-19.
Mantavia cited a rise in cases in neighboring China for the new rules, he told parliament on Thursday.
Few cases of BF.7 — the Omicron subtype driving the current outbreak in China — have so far been detected in India, local media reports.
The minister urged state governments to increase surveillance for new coronavirus variants and send samples of all positive cases to genetic sequencing laboratories.
India relaxed its mask-wearing rules earlier this year after the caseload began to decline. India currently has around 3,400 coronavirus cases, according to health ministry data.
Cases have surged in China since it relaxed its strict zero-covid policy this month following rare public protests. Under the controversial policy, authorities put entire towns and cities under lockdown if they report even a few cases.
Mandavia said the Indian government still has no plans to stop flights from countries where new cases have been reported.
On Thursday, the Indian Medical Association, India’s top doctors’ body, appealed to people to wear face masks in public and get vaccination boosters. It urged people to avoid public gatherings such as weddings, political and social gatherings and international travel.
India, with a population of nearly 1.4 billion, has administered more than 2.2 billion doses of the vaccine, but only 27 percent of the population has received the third booster dose.