In the wake of surge in Covid-19 cases in many countries, India has started 2 per cent random sampling of international travellers coming to the country and may consider making it mandatory for all if necessary, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Thursday.
He was responding to queries of some Opposition MPs after his suo moto statement in Rajya Sabha on the latest Covid-19 situation and India's preparedness."We are constantly monitoring the situation. There are no direct flights between China and India but people come via other routes," he said in response to a query by Raghav Chadha of AAP on whether the government would ban direct flights from China.
As a health minister, Mandaviya said he has spoken to many countries and WHO about what all precautions are needed to be taken and also understand in which direction the pandemic is moving. "At a primary stage, we have already started doing 2 per cent random sampling of any traveller coming to India," he said.
The minister further said "in the coming days the percentage could be increased and if necessary we will make it mandatory for everyone coming to India". Mandaviya also said the focus of the government is to ensure that no unknown variant of the virus enters India and at the same time there is now impediment on travelling.
The minister assured the Upper House that all the oxygen plants were running and a review has also been done about the availability of medicines. "We are prepared and ready to provide the requirement of medicines and vaccines in the country," he said. Mandaviya also informed that an expert committee has given approval to nasal vaccine to combat the virus, doing away with the requirements of jabs. "We are fully prepared to fight the virus," he asserted.
Referring to the letter written to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to follow appropriate covid protocol during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, he said it was his responsibility as a health minister to write after few MPs from the state had pointed out to him about people, including the Himachal Pradesh chief minister who took part in the event contracted the virus.
"We have never done politics on covid crisis and we don't even want to do it," Mandaviya asserted. In his statement, he said in the recent days there have been reports of rise in Covid-19 cases in many countries such China, Japan, South Korea, the US, France, Greece and Italy.
The evolving nature of the virus poses threat to global health in a way that impacts virtually every country, he said adding the Centre has asked states to remain alert and create awareness about wearing face masks and using hand sanitisers, especially in view of upcoming festivals and new year celebrations.
He further said states have also been advised to focus on heightened surveillance within the community and to undertake requisite control and containment measures, increase the whole genome sequencing of all positive cases for timely detection of newer variants, if any.