India has required a negative COVID-19 test report for travelers from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand, the Federal Minister of Health said.
Passengers from these countries would be quarantined if they show symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted on Saturday as he posted photos of tests carried out at the capital New Delhi’s international airport.
India, which reported the second-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world behind the United States at 44 million, also began randomly testing 2 percent of international passengers arriving at its airports for COVID-19 on Saturday.
Mandaviya referred to an increase in cases in neighboring China due to the new rules, he told parliament on Thursday.
According to local media reports, some cases of BF.7 — the omicron subvariant that is driving the current increase in China — have so far been identified in India.
The minister urged state governments to step up monitoring of new coronavirus variants and send samples of all positive cases to genome sequencing laboratories.
India relaxed its mask-wearing rules earlier this year after the number of cases began to fall. According to the Ministry of Health, there are currently around 3,400 active coronavirus cases in India.
China has seen an increase in cases since the country relaxed its strict zero-COVID policy this month following rare public protests. As part of the controversial policy, authorities cordoned off entire cities when they reported a few cases.
Mandaviya said the Indian government has not yet planned to suspend flights from countries where new cases have been reported.
On Thursday, India’s top medical body, the Indian Medical Association, also appealed for people to wear masks and get vaccines in public places. It also asked people to avoid public gatherings such as weddings, political and social meetings, and international travel.
India, a country of almost 1.4 billion people, has given more than 2.2 billion doses of vaccine, but only 27 percent of the population has received the third booster dose.