Random testing of travellers from abroad has started at the country's international airports

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the Covid-19 situation in the country on Thursday amid an alarming spike in the number of cases and reports of severe disease and deaths in China and some other countries.

Prime Minister Modi urged everyone to follow Covid appropriate behaviour at all times, especially in view of the upcoming festive season, including wearing masks in crowded public places. He also urged that that precaution dose may be encouraged especially for vulnerable and elderly groups, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.

The Prime Minister cautioned against complacency and advised strict vigil. He reiterated that Covid-19 is not over yet and directed officials to strengthen the ongoing surveillance measures, especially at the international airports.

Prime Minister Modi also stressed the need to ensure that the entire Covid infrastructure at all levels is maintained at a high level of preparedness in terms of equipment, processes and human resources. He advised States to audit Covid specific facilities to ensure operational readiness of Hospital Infrastructure, including Oxygen Cylinders, PSA plants, ventilators and human resources.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister directed officials to ramp up testing and also genomic sequencing efforts.

The review, attended by top officials of the Union Health Ministry and allied agencies, came as the authoritoes commenced random testing of travellers from abroad at the country's international airports. While there is no official word on this yet, it is expected that infrastructure for quarantine will also be reestablished in the coming days.

The past few days have seen China reporting an alarming surge in Covid-19 cases after it relaxed stringent curbs under its ‘zero-Covid policy’ after huge country-wide protests.

While official figures of recent Covid-19 infections and deaths are hard to come by, social media has been flooded with videos and images of overcrowded healthcare facilities as well as crematoriums.

In a statement in the Lok Sabha, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said all states should sensitise people to take a precaution dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. They should also emphasize on the need for people to wear masks in view of the festive season.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that it was keeping a sharp eye on the situation in China. The ministry has not issued any advisory or guidelines for Indian nationals living in China and said it expected them to follow instructions from local health authorities.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare sent a letter to States and Union Territories citing the Covid-19 situation in the USA, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, and China.

Through the letter, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan requested all States and Union Territories (UTs) to gear up the genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through the SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network.