Passengers arriving in India from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand will have to show a negative Covid-19 test from January 1, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Thursday.

In a tweet, Mandaviya said that passengers from those countries will have to upload their RT-PCR reports on the government’s Air Suvidha portal before they board the flight.

The decision came amid a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in neighbouring China after it abandoned key parts of its “Zero Covid” containment strategy as protests broke out against the curbs. In some parts of the country, hospitals have become overcrowded and pharmacies have been facing shortages of medicines.

According to an internal estimate from China’s top health officials, 25 crore persons, or 18% of the population in the country, may have caught Covid-19 infection in the first 20 days of December, The Financial Times reported.

On Thursday, Mandaviya said that the Covid-19 test needs to be taken within 72 hours of travel to India. This new requirement would be in addition to the random tests on 2% of all international passengers arriving in India.

On Wednesday, the United States also said that it will ask passengers from China, Macau and Hong Kong to furnish negative Covid-19 test reports from January 5, AFP reported. A federal health official said that the decision was taken as Beijing was not sharing enough information about the increase in coronavirus cases.

India, besides random testing at airport and seeking coronavirus reports from select countries, has also directed officials to ramp up testing for Covid-19 and increase the number of samples being sent for genome sequencing.

On December 22, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged everyone to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, including wearing masks in crowded places.

On Thursday, India recorded 268 new coronavirus infections, up from 188 cases recorded a day ago. There are presently 3,552 active Covid-19 infections in the country.