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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop flights from countries that are affected by the new Covid-19 variant. He said, "With great difficulty, our country has recovered from Corona. We should do everything possible to prevent this new variant from entering India".

Nearly two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is racing to contain a new coronavirus variant potentially more dangerous than the Delta variant.

The World Health Organzation has named the new variant, "Omicron" and classified it as "highly transmissible". The variants have been detected in South Africa, Botswana, Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong.

Omicron's actual risks are not understood. But early evidence suggests it carries an increased risk of reinfection compared with other highly transmissible variants, the WHO said. That means people who contracted Covid-19 and recovered could be subject to catching it again. It could take weeks to know if how much effective are current vaccines.

As a result,  several countries has restricted travel for visitors from that region, where the variant brought on a fresh surge of infections.

On the other hand, India has resumed the schedule of international flights to and from India from December 15. The union health ministry also said that the countries deemed 'at risk' of Covid-19 will be allowed to operate only a certain percentage of their pre-Covid scheduled flights.

This means airlines will be allowed to operate 50% of their pre-COVID scheduled passenger flights between India and South Africa, Hong Kong, and Botswana from December 15.

The ministry has added Hong Kong and Israel to the list of countries from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing considering the detection of the new COVID variant 'Omicron' in South Africa.

Meanwhile, PM Modi has convened a meeting on the situation relating to COVID-19 and vaccination with top government officials. Cabinet Secretary Gauba, Principal Secretary to PM Modi, PK Mishra and NITI Aayog member (health) Dr VK Paul, and Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan will attend the meeting.

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