Here are top 10 points on this big story
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya chaired a meeting with top officials and experts on the Covid situation in the country. After the meeting, the minister tweeted, "COVID is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation."
VK Paul, a member of NITI Aayog who heads the national task force on Covid, has said there is no need to panic, and that adequate tests are being conducted. He advised people to wear masks in crowded areas. Mr Paul said there is no change in the guidelines for international air travel yet.
Earlier, sources said discussions in the review meeting would be held primarily on six key points. These include a strategy to block incoming cases at the international and domestic airports, laying down guidelines for passengers travelling from abroad, and consultation with experts on the new variant of Covid.
Indian travellers returning from abroad, the Covid strains currently in the country and prevention protocols for the upcoming New Year celebrations would also be discussed, the sources said.
The government has said samples of all Covid positive cases should be sent daily to INSACOG genome sequencing labs mapped with all states and Union Territories. INSACOG is a forum under the Health Ministry to study and monitor various strains of Covid in India.
"ln view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants," read a letter from Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to all states.
"Such an exercise will enable timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country and will facilitate undertaking of requisite public health measures for the same," Mr Bhushan wrote.
The country has reported 129 fresh infections over the last 24 hours and the number of active cases currently stands at 3,408. One death was recorded over the last 24 hours -- taking the total to 5,30,677.
China is reportedly struggling to contain a surge in Covid-related deaths after an abrupt shift from its Zero Covid policy that imposed strict lockdowns and mass testing.
According to reports, in the recent spike of cases in China, hospitals have been brought to their knees and pharmacies have run out of medicine. Chinese authorities say it is impossible to track the progress of the virus, reported news agency AFP. Local authorities in Beijing reported just five deaths from Covid on Tuesday -- up from Monday's two. Beijing health officials said only those who had directly died of respiratory failure caused by the virus would be counted under Covid death statistics.
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