The government has made pre-flight RT-PCR Covid-19 tests mandatory for international passengers coming into India from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand from January 1, 2023.

Flyers coming from these countries will be required to undergo RT-PCR tests before their departure and upload the Covid-19 negative RT-PCR test report on the Air Suvidha portal, Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted today.

The test should have been conducted within 72 hours of undertaking the journey to India, says the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This requirement is in addition to the random 2% tests of all international passengers in all incoming international flights on their arrival to India irrespective of port of departure.

The new travel advisory comes in the backdrop of a sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in China, Japan, the United States, South Korea, Brazil and Thailand. China saw a massive spike in Covid-19 cases after the country eased its zero-Covid policy.

Amid the rise in Covid-19 infections in these countries, the health ministry has been sending advisories to stakeholder departments and ministries in the states and union territories (UTs).

This is part of the government's efforts to restrict the spread of Covid-19 cases after new cases continue to remain alarmingly high across the globe.

Last week, the health ministry told state governments and union territories to ensure ample availability of medical oxygen to face any challenges that may arise in the wake of any potential increase in Covid-19 cases in the country.

It had earlier asked the states to ramp up their vigil against new Covid-19 cases by getting the sample of such patients undergo genome testing to identify the illness-causing variant.

In a letter to the states and UTs, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACoG) network.

Earlier this month, Apollo Hospitals' joint managing director Sangita Reddy urged the government to act swiftly on the country's policy regarding air travel to and from China. Given India's extensive Covid-19 vaccination drive with effective vaccines, there is no need to panic on the surge in Covid-19 cases in China, Reddy had said. "However having said that, there is no place for inertia. We must act swiftly on r policy regarding air travel to & from #China," she added.

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