The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has put in place new restrictions for international passengers from the United Kingdom, Europe, West Asia, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand and Zimbabwe as fears about new mutations of the Covid virus increase.

From Friday, passengers from these countries must take an RT-PCR test on arrival at the Mumbai airport. They will have to pay Rs 600 per test.

A negative RT-PCR on arrival will not be mandatory for passengers from other countries. However, they will have to show a negative test report, with the test conducted within 72 hours of the journey, at the Mumbai airport.

Passengers will no longer have to undergo institutional quarantine. They have to submit a self-declaration form and an undertaking to airport officials, and will have to remain in home quarantine for 14 days, according to PTI.

The BMC’s guidelines also stated that all exemptions on undergoing an RT-PCR test will no longer be applicable. Such exemptions earlier applied to persons above 65 years of age, and those who have been fully vaccinated.

The civic body stated that this decision was taken by the Union government in view of the detection of more transmissible variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

The civic body did not mention any specific variant in its press release. However, the guidelines have been issued days after a study in South Africa showed that a new variant of coronavirus, C.1.2, could strike down the protection offered by vaccines.

The C.1.2 variant was first discovered in May. Since then, it has been found in Mauritius, England, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, New Zealand, Portugal and Switzerland.

The variant has more mutations than other variants of concern and variants of interest that have been reported worldwide, PTI reported, citing the research conducted by South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform.

The study reportedly found that the number of C.1.2 genomes detected each month in South Africa has increased consistently. In May, the variant was found in 0.2% of the genomes sent for sequencing. It increased to 1.6% in June and 2% in July.

This pattern was similar to the ones seen with the beta and delta variants in South Africa, the study found.