(GBRC) in Gandhinagar for genome sequencing, amid the surge of Covid-19 cases caused by the BF.7 Omicron sub-variant in parts of the world. Meanwhile, Mumbai’s civic body has also sent samples of 65 covid-positive patients to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for genome sequencing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday met Chinese officials over the surge in Covid-19 cases in the country, and urged them to share real-time data so other countries can respond effectively. The global health agency has asked Chinese health officials to share data on genetic sequencing, hospitalisations, deaths and vaccinations. Meanwhile, joining a growing list of countries, the UK has also introduce curbs on travellers from China. Passengers arriving from January 5, 2023, onwards will need to show a negative Covid-19 pre-departure test (PDT) taken no more than two days prior to departure.

In addition, the UKHSA is launching surveillance from January 8, which will see a sample of passengers arriving in England from mainland China tested for COVID-19 at the point of their arrival. Passengers at Heathrow Airport will be invited to take part in the study and all positive samples will be sent for sequencing.

As part of Covid-19 guidelines, people arriving in India from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand will have to show a negative COVID-19 test from Sunday, India’s health minister had said on Thursday. Under the new guidelines, travellers from those countries would have to upload their Covid-19 test results on the Air Suvidha portal before their departure.

This requirement is in addition to the random testing of international passengers on their arrival in India irrespective of their port of departure. Last week, the government made random coronavirus testing mandatory for two per cent of passengers arriving on each international flight.

A woman who had come from the United States of America to Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh has tested positive for COVID-19, a senior official said on Friday. The 38-year-old woman, her husband and daughter had arrived in India to meet kin on December 23 and came to Jabalpur via New Delhi and Agra, Joint Director of Health Services Dr Sanjay Mishra told PTI. “She complained of cold and cough and got herself tested for coronavirus. Her test report returned positive on Thursday. Her samples will be sent to DRDO Laboratory in Gwalior for genome sequencing. The samples of her kin will be taken during the day for COVID-19 tests,” he said.

Meanwhile, a survey, conducted by community social media platform LocalCircles showed that a majority of 79 percent people have decided to welcome the new year with close family and friends at home. The results of the survey also showed that some people were inclined to opt for house parties with 12 percent planning to go to a friend’s place to celebrate. But there was a certain category, only 5 percent, which is likely to avoid socialising in light of the increased Covid risk.

Meanwhile, India also successfully isolated a sample of SARS-CoV-2 virus containing the BF.7, a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant, which is suspected to be behind the surge in Covid-19 cases in several countries including China.

A Times of India report quoted government sources as saying that the isolate sample is being studied to assess the efficacy of vaccines. “Scientists are studying whether the currently available vaccines are effective in preventing infections or serious illness caused by the new sub-variant,” a source was quoted as saying.

India has reported at least four cases of coronavirus caused by the BF.7 variant since July. However, all the patients were isolated, treated and have recovered. The country has been reporting fewer than 200 cases a day for several days now.

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