Government sources have said that India is likely to restrict travellers from South Africa and neighbouring countries as the new COVID-19 variant rises, Redbox India reported.
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
Earlier PTI reported that the Centre, on November 25, asked all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where a new COVID-19 variant of serious public health implications has been reported.
In a letter address to additional chief secretary/principal secretary/secretary (Health) of all states and union territories, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan asked them to ensure that samples of travellers turning positive are sent to designated genome sequencing laboratories promptly.
It has now been reported by National Centra for Disease Control (NCDC) that multiple cases of a COVID-19 variant B.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (3 cases), South Africa (6 cases) and Honk Kong (1 case), Bhushan said in the letter.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel.
"It is therefore imperative that all international travellers travelling from and transiting through these countries, (they are part of the "at risk" country category of international travellers coming to India) and also including all other at risk' countries indicated in the revised Guidelines for International Arrivals issued by this Ministry dated November 11,2021, are subjected to rigorous screening and testing, as per MoHFW Guidelines," Bhushan said.
The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per MoHFW guidelines.