India will start randomly testing 2 per cent of international passengers arriving at its airports for COVID-19, according to the country’s health minister, Mansukh Mandaviya.
“The global pandemic is not yet over… The virus is changing its face from time to time,” Mandaviya told parliament on Thursday.
The move comes as India steps up surveillance for new COVID variants.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was set to hold a meeting with top officials on Thursday to review the COVID-19 situation in the country.
“Considering the upcoming festival season and New Year, states have been advised to keep up awareness of hand hygiene and the importance of masking,” Mandaviya said.
India mask advisory and COVID testing at the Taj Mahal
India’s iconic Taj Mahal, which attracts thousands of tourists every day, will now require visitors to undergo a COVID-19 test before they enter, reports Asian News International (ANI).
India is reporting an average of 153 cases of COVID every day, Mandaviya said. The country currently has 3,402 active cases, according to data from the health ministry.
The government earlier this week asked India’s states to keep a lookout for any new variants. It urged people to wear masks in crowded areas, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases in China and other parts of the globe.
Lawmakers attending the ongoing winter session of parliament were spotted wearing masks, which have not been compulsory in most parts of the country for several months.
With more than 44 million COVID cases to date, India has reported the most in the world behind the United States. However, its number of confirmed infections has fallen sharply in the past few months.
Are Indian e-visas still available?
India reinstated e-visas for British travellers earlier this month. The electronic visa (e-visa) scheme, which is valid for travellers from 164 countries – including the UK – was halted in March 2020 at the height of the pandemic.
It was partially restored last year for visitors from 156 countries, but the UK was left out of the list, leaving hundreds of British travellers facing visa delays.
Brits can now apply online once again instead of having to book in-person appointments and interviews to secure a visa.