No plan to make Covid testing mandatory at airports as of now

New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry has no plan to make RT-PCR testing for COVID-19 mandatory at airports for travellers, despite COVID cases surge in some Indian cities, it is reliably learned.

According to Minstry officials said though the number of COVID cases are rising, led by the JN.1 subvariant, there are no immediate plans either to come out with a mask mandate or imposing travel restrictions between states, which are seeing a rise in the number of COVID cases.

In the last two weeks, 22 people have died due to COVID-19 in the country, and most of them were found to be co-morbid.

As many as 21 cases of JN.1, which has been declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) a “variant of interest,” has been detected in the country.

Officials also said that for now there is no push from the government for vaccination.

“There is no plan so far to make RT-PCR testing mandatory for COVID-19 at airports. We need to be alert and there is no need for panic,” the officials added.

India in July had issued a revised travel guidelines, and had dropped the requirement for RT-PCR based-testing of a random 2 per cent travelers

On Thursday, India recorded 594 fresh cases while the number of active cases increased to 2,669 from 2,311 the previous day, according to ministry data.

The death toll has climbed to 5,33,327 with six more people – three from Kerala, two from Karnataka and one from Punjab – succumbing to Covid-19.

NITI Ayog member (Health) DR V K Paul had said that the scientific community in India is closely investigating the new variant.

He also emphasized the need for states/UTs to ramp up testing and strengthen surveillance systems.

Even though the number of cases is rising, there is no cause of immediate concern as 92 per cent of those infected are opting for home-based treatment, indicating mild illness, officials added.

There is also no increase in hospitalisation rates and COVID-19 is an incidental finding in people hospitalised due to other medical conditions.

The officials said it is unknown whether JN.1 infection produces different symptoms from other COVID-19 variants. In general, symptoms of Covid-19 tend to be similar across variants.

“There is no indication of increased severity from JN.1. At this time, there is no evidence that JN.1 presents an increased risk to public health relative to other currently circulating variants,” the officials added.