All international passengers arriving into Mumbai will have to provide their travel history dating back to 15 days, the Mumbai civic body has announced as a new COVID-19 variant set off alarm bells across the world.
Those arriving from South Africa, Hong Kong, Botswana will be screened and tested for the new strain – named omicron and described as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization – it said.
“All passengers from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana will be screened and tested, even if they are carrying vaccination certificates or a negative RTPCR test,” tweeted the civic body.
All passengers from South Africa, Hong Kong & Botswana will be screened & tested, even if they are carrying vaccination certificates or – ve RTPCR test.
They will be home isolated & if found +ve, sample will be sent for genome sequencing to check for new variant.#BMCUpdates
— माझी Mumbai, आपली BMC (@mybmc) November 27, 2021
The variant – first detected in South Africa this week, and since reported from Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel, and Belgium – is believed to have 50 mutations, including over 30 on the spike protein and 10 on the receptor binding domain.
All those arriving from abroad will be home isolated and if found positive, sample will be sent for genome sequencing to check for new variant, it said.
Genome is like an instruction manual that contains information about the make-up of an organism, and genome sequencing is a technique that reads and interprets genetic information.
The move for genome sequencing amid worries over the new variant comes after several nations announced flight bans on South Africa arrivals.
The civic body also announced that it is reviewing preparedness levels and inspecting Covid centres.
“All Jumbo Covid Centers to be re-inspected to ensure their proper functioning. Stock of medicines and manpower, production and storage of O2, electrical and fire fighting system to be reviewed,” it said.
In neighbouring Karnataka, international arrivals from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong will have to undergo Covid testing and those who test positive will be placed under a 10-day institutional isolation, said a government circular.
At a meeting yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a review of the plan to ease international travel restrictions in light of the emerging new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529.