India steps ups COVID-19 testing for international flyers

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NEW DELHI, Nov 29 (Reuters) - India will make on-arrival COVID-19 testing mandatory for flyers from more than a dozen countries, including South Africa and Britain where the Omicron variant has been detected, the health ministry said on Monday.

The decision will be effective from Dec. 1 and comes after a man who recently returned from South Africa tested positive for COVID-19, though it is not yet clear which strain of the coronavirus he contracted.

Further investigations are ongoing, an official said.

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"The patient is currently under observation and is displaying mild symptoms," Pradeep Awate, a senior health official in Maharashtra state where the man is isolating, told Reuters.

"Still, we are monitoring him out of abundant caution."

The federal health ministry said all arrivals from Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel will be tested at the airport using the RT-PCR method.

Additionally, 5% of all travellers from other countries will be randomly tested, the ministry added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already asked officials to review a decision to resume all scheduled international flights from Dec. 15. Currently only special flights as per bilateral or other agreements are flying. read more

India reported 8,309 new coronavirus infections on Monday, taking the total to 34.58 million - only behind the tally of the United States. Deaths rose by 236 to 468,790, health ministry data showed.

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Reporting by Anuron Kumar Mitra and Shilpa Jamkhandikar; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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