As Covid-19 Variant Omicron spreads, PM Modi Takes Stock
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday chaired a meeting with top officials to discuss the Covid-19 situation.
- WHO described the strain in South Africa as highly transmissible.
- Omicron could potentially be more dangerous than the Delta variant.
New Delhi: A day after the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new strain of the novel coronavirus, B.1.1.529, as a “variant of concern”; Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday chaired a meeting with top officials to discuss the Covid-19 situation in the country as well as the nationwide vaccination drive. The meeting was attended by cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba, principal secretary to Prime Minister PK Mishra, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan and NITI Aayog member (health) Dr VK Paul.
The WHO described the strain, which was first announced by scientists in South Africa, as highly transmissible, prompting several countries, including India, to impose restrictions on travel from affected regions. Omicron, which it has been named, could potentially be more dangerous than the Delta variant. It has so far been reported in South Africa, Hong Kong, Botswana, Israel and Belgium. In view of the fast-spreading variant, the central government has directed states to aggressively test and screen international travellers from South Africa and other “at-risk” countries. Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan Friday said the emergence of the variant had “serious public health implications”, and directed states to increase vigilance.
In the 24 hours ending 9 AM Saturday, India reported 8,318 new Covid-19 cases and 465 deaths. India administered 73, 58,017 Covid vaccine doses in the last 24 hours. The total number of doses administered in India so far is 1,21,06,58,262. India, on Friday, announced that scheduled international passenger flights will resume from December 15th after 20 months of coronavirus-induced suspension. As per the government’s decision, airlines will be allowed to operate 50 per cent of their pre-Covid scheduled passenger flights between India and South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana from December 15th.