Health Ministry issues alert on COVID variants

Union Health Ministry has issued alert on the risk posed by South African variant of COVID-19.

Key Points

  • The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has reported that multiple cases of “COVID-19 variant 8.1.1529” have been reported in recent time.
  • Botswana reported 3 cases, South Africa reported 6 cases while Honk Kong reported 1 case.
  • The variant was reported to have a significantly high number of mutations. Thus, it has serious public health implications in light of relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel.

What does new norms mean for international travellers?

These countries are part of ‘at risk’ country category of international travellers who are coming to India. These travellers will be subjected to rigorous screening and testing. Their contacts will be closely tracked and tested in accordance with the health ministry guidelines for this category. In case they test positive, their samples must be sent to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG).


INSACOG is the forum, established under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare on December 25, 2020. It was set up to study and monitor genome sequencing and virus variation of different strains of COVID-19 in India. in the initial phase, it was tasked to study the virus variant Lineage B.1.1.7 which was found in United Kingdom. The forum works as a consortium of 28 national laboratories for genome sequencing, which are located in different parts of India.


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