Back to the battle: India resumes Covid tests at airports after the spread of new variant!

The New Year seems to bring India back to the battle of fighting Covid as the new variant of the pandemic has been found in the country. In the wake of the Covid resurgence, the Indian government has begun the process of resuming the protocols at various channels to curb the window of spread. The spread of a new variant is causing more worries to India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to convene a high-level meeting on Thursday- December 22 to discuss about the variant and its menace.  

The new variant which is named 'BF.7' was detected in July, September, and November. It's the variant that's behind the sudden surge of Covid cases in China. Besides China, a handful of countries including South Korea, Japan, France, and the United States have been reporting a sharp increase in Covid cases and shockingly, this new variant has entered India, which pushed the country to employ intense screenings at the airports. 

According to the government, India has reported at least four cases of BF.7, which is a subvariant of Omicron. Of these four cases, three were reported from Gujarat and one from Odisha. One of the cases in Gujarat is a woman who had a travel history to the United States. She tested positive for Covid last month and it was identified that she was affected with the new variant. She was put in home isolation and later she recovered. 

In the wake of the surge of cases in India's neighbouring China and in the United States where it has a growing air connectivity, the Indian government has on Wednesday resumed the random sampling of international passengers at the airports across the country. On Wednesday, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya reviewed the Covid-19 situation in the country and he urged the people to adhere to the Covid-appropriate behaviour, wear masks, and get vaccinated. 

After the review meeting, Mandaviya said, "Covid is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation." The health ministry on Tuesday had urged all states and Union territories to ramp up the whole genome sequencing of positive samples for timely detection of newer variants. The states are instructed to ensure that samples of all positive cases are sent to the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories on a daily basis. 

ANI has quoted a source saying, "There are currently ten different variants of Covid-19 in the country, with the latest variant being BF.7. At present various variants of Omicron are spreading in the country and the Delta variant can still be seen in the country." Several health experts warned that BF.7 variant is highly transmissible and has a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those who have vaccinated. 

Several key international airports in Karnataka and Kerala have decided to begin the screening on international passengers. Karnataka Health Minister Sudhakar said, "We will have to take certain precautionary measures in the wake of global situation. KIA (Kempagowda International Airport, Bengaluru) has a high inflow of international passengers. We will start screening passengers there."