New Delhi: While another Covid variant, Omicron, has emerged as a variant of concern across the world, Indian government on Monday claimed that the country is still free from the highly mutant variant and not a single case has been detected in the nation so far, as per senior government officials. Furthermore, they added that two clusters are under investigation – one in Maharashtra and another one in Karnataka.
The clarification comes a day after a man tested positive for Covid-19 in Dombivli, in Maharashtra’s Thane district. He had travelled from Cape Town to Dombivli on November 24.
The man’s samples were sent for genome testing to determine if he has been infected with the Omicron strain.
Karnataka, meanwhile, has ordered precautionary measures in Dakshina Kannada, Madikeri, Chamarajanagar and Mysuru districts bordering Kerala. Chief minister Basavaraj Bommai underlined that there was high prevalence of Covid among people coming from Kerala. The state government has also urged the Centre to impose a travel ban on passengers coming from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana.
The variant emerged in southern Africa earlier this month and has been declared a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO). It has so far spread to 15 countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday urged people to exercise caution in the wake of the new strain. He was addressing the media persons before the start of the winter session of Parliament.
India has announced strict checking of international travellers, particularly those who are arriving from countries categorized as “at risk” by the government. These are 11 such countries, plus the UK and Europe.
Japan on Monday joined the growing list of countries which have announce ban on travel to southern African countries. “We are banning the entry of foreigners from all countries starting November 30,” Sputnik reported quoting Kishida as saying today.
Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands have already stopped flights from southern Africa.
The Omicron variant contains at least 30 mutations, more than any other previous strain. It is also believed to be resistant to vaccines, though scientists have sought more studies.