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PM Modi seeks review of plans to ease international travel curbs amid new Omicron strain

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing a meeting on the situation relating to COVID-19 and Vaccination with top officials, through video conferencing, in New Delhi on Saturday. (ANI Photo)Premium
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing a meeting on the situation relating to COVID-19 and Vaccination with top officials, through video conferencing, in New Delhi on Saturday. (ANI Photo)

  • The Prime Minister has highlighted the need for monitoring all international arrivals, their testing as per guidelines, with a specific focus on countries identified ‘at risk’

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Chairing an important meeting on the Covid-19 scenario and vaccination status in the country today morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed officials to review plans for easing of international travel restrictions in light of the new coronavirus variant - B.1.1.529, or Omicron.

In today's meeting, which lasted for almost 2 hours, PM Modi was briefed about new 'Omicron' strain of coronavirus along with its characteristics and impact seen in several countries.

PM Modi said people must be more cautious and take proper precautions, such as wearing masks and social distancing.

He "spoke about the need to be proactive in light of the new variant," the statement from the PMO said.

The Prime Minister also highlighted need for monitoring all international arrivals, their testing as per guidelines, with a specific focus on countries identified ‘at risk’.

PM Modi has directed officials to work closely with state govts to ensure that there is proper awareness at state and district levels. He directed that intensive containment and active surveillance should continue in clusters reporting higher cases.

"He directed that intensive containment and active surveillance should continue in clusters reporting higher cases and required technical support be provided to states which are reporting higher cases presently."

PM Modi has also asked officials to accelerate second-dose coverage.

The meeting comes amid rising global concerns over a new strain of the coronavirus which the World Health Organization has named 'Omicron' and classified as a highly transmissible virus of concern.

The WHO has named the new "variant of concern" Omicron, and scientists are racing to understand it and whether vaccines need adjustments.

This week, India posted the smallest rise in new cases in one and a half years, due to increased vaccinations and antibodies in a large section of its population from previous infections.

The nation's daily caseload has halved since September. It reported 8,318 new cases in the last 24 hours.

But the new strain, with a spike protein dramatically different from the one existing Covid-19 that vaccines are based on, has raised global alarms and frightened financial markets.

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