The Centre on Wednesday directed all state governments and Union Territories to screen 2% of the international travellers with RT-PCR tests to prevent the spread of Covid-19, The Indian Express reported.

All positive specimens should be sent for genome sequencing, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter.

“Passengers who test positive need to be advised isolation and clinically managed as per prevailing guidelines,” the letter added, according to Mint.

Bhushan also directed all states and Union Territories to monitor hospitals and laboratories. All health facilities have been asked to report influenza-like illnesses, reported The Indian Express. District surveillance officers have to test 5% of such cases through RT-PCR.

“All cases of severe acute respiratory illnesses have to be monitored at district level hospitals and select tertiary care hospitals,” read the letter. “This data will be shared by the state Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme teams on a fortnightly basis.”

Influenza-like illness and severe acute respiratory infections occur when a person has a fever with body temperature above 38 degree Celsius, has cough and 10 days have passed since the onset of the symptoms, according to the World Health Organization. In severe acute respiratory infections, a person also requires hospitalisation.

“The states have been asked to do community-based surveillance to identify large outbreaks, unusual clinical presentation or mortality through media scanning and indicator-based surveillance through the routine reporting channels,” Bhushan added in his letter.

Meanwhile, India on Thursday recorded 18,819 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative tally since the pandemic began in January 2020 to 4,34,52,164, data shared by the Union health ministry showed.

On Wednesday, the country had reported at 14,506 new cases.

On Thursday, the toll rose to 5,25,116 as 39 people died due to the disease in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry data. The active cases in the country were recorded at 1,04,555.