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Omicron coronavirus variant puts world on edge

The Indian state of Maharashtra has reimposed mandatory quarantine for all international passengers arriving from “at risk” countries in response to the Omicron coronavirus variant.

According to a government statement Tuesday, travelers arriving from countries determined to be “at risk” by India’s Health Ministry must quarantine for seven days at their own cost at designated hotels.

As of November 30, “at risk” countries and territories include South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.

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These passengers will also be required to take RT-PCR tests on the second, fourth and seventh day after their arrival.

In recent days, four passengers from South Africa and two from Nigeria have tested positive for Covid-19 after landing in Maharashtra. Their samples, as with all tests that now come back positive, have been sent for genome sequencing with contact tracing underway.

Maharashtra’s revised guidelines are effective immediately and coincide with new national travel rules coming into place.

India’s new rules: From Wednesday, all international passengers arriving in India must submit a self-declaration form to an online government portal that includes a 14-day travel history and a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to their departure.

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Travelers from countries deemed “at risk” will also now face further testing and surveillance, including a PCR test on arrival and must wait for the results before leaving or catching a connecting flight, according to guidelines issued by the Health Ministry on Sunday.

They will then have to quarantine at home for seven days and take another test on the eighth day.

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