Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya reviewed the RT-PCR testing facility at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Sunday as India’s tally of Omicron cases skyrocketed past 21.
India reported 17 cases of the new Covid-19 variant on Sunday — nine in Jaipur, seven in Pune district, and one in Delhi.
Mandaviya reviewed the testing facilities for passengers from at-risk countries, he tweeted, adding that 35 RT-PCR testing machines were functional at the airport’s Terminal 3 that would reduce the screening and testing time to 30 minutes.
Countries from where travellers would need to follow additional measures upon arrival, such as post-arrival testing, include South Africa, Botswana, Brazil, Singapore, Mauritius, China, New Zealand, Israel, Hong Kong, Zimbabwe, and the United Kingdom. All 44 countries in Europe have also been included in the ‘at-risk’ list.
The Omicron variant has emerged as a ‘variant of concern’ following its detection in southern Africa late last month. The mutation has become dominant in the United Kingdom and the United States with rapidly rising cases.
On Sunday, a woman and her two daughters who returned from Nigeria, her brother and his two daughters in the Pimpri Chinchwad township near Pune tested positive for the virus. Another man who travelled from Finland also tested positive in Maharashtra.
In Jaipur, nine members from a family who recently returned from South Africa returned positive tests for the virus variant, while a 37-year-old, fully vaccinated man who returned to Delhi from Tanzania also tested positive.
On Friday, the Union Health Ministry said Omicron cases were rising in countries outside South Africa and, given its characteristics, were likely to spread to more countries. However, the magnitude, scale, and severity of the disease are not clear.
However, the country’s fast pace of vaccination and high exposure to the Delta variant —evidenced by high seropositivity – could mean that the severity will be low, it said.