Healthcare professionals across India have been taking part in anti-Covid drills, and travel rules for several Asian countries including China have been toughened in the wake of Beijing's decision to end the policy of widespread quarantine.
Indian hospitals stocked up on oxygen, beds and medicines as the world logged 11 million new Covid infections last week – eight percent more than the number of cases reported one week earlier.
Delhi Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya inspected state facilities which crumpled during previous Covid surges in 2021 and 2022, leaving millions dead.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked us to make sure there isn’t a Covid surge,” he said, adding that visitors from China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand will have to produce negative test results from Sunday.
“After landing in India, they will undergo thermal screening and we have issued orders for them to be quarantined if found positive,” the minister added.
He separately told parliament that random testing of two percent of international travellers has resumed at Indian airports.
The random tests were called off in November as the epidemic situation improved in India.
The minister said there were no immediate plans to halt flights from countries where new cases have been reported, in line with some experts that travel curbs may not be the best way to stave off another surge.
No hasty steps
Rajeev Jayadevan from India’s largest union of physicians said the country should expect a fall-out as a result of the change in Chinese policy.
Jayadevan cautioned that a new variant of the Covid virus was at present gnawing into China’s largely unvaccinated elderly population.
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