India will start randomly testing 2% of international passengers arriving at its airports for COVID-19, Mansukh Mandaviya, the country’s health minister, told parliament on Thursday, as the country steps up surveillance for new coronavirus variants.
“The global pandemic is not yet over.. The virus is changing its face from time to time,” Mandaviya told parliament on Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was set to hold a meeting with top officials on Thursday to review the COVID-19 situation in the country.
“Considering the upcoming festival season and New Year, states have been advised to keep up awareness of hand hygiene and the importance of masking,” Mandaviya said.
India’s iconic Taj Mahal, which attracts thousands of tourists every day will now require visitors to undergo a COVID-19 test before they enter, Reuters partner ANI reported.
Lawmakers attending the ongoing winter session of parliament were spotted wearing masks. Masks have not been compulsory in most parts of the country for several months.
India is reporting an average of 153 cases of COVID every day, Mandaviya said. The country has 3,402 active cases of the coronavirus, according to data from the health ministry.
The government earlier this week asked India’s states to keep a lookout for any new variants of the coronavirus and urged people to wear masks in crowded areas, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases in China and other parts of the globe.
With more than 44 million COVID cases to date, India has reported the most in the world behind the United States. However, its number of confirmed infections has fallen sharply in the past few months.