Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired a meeting with top officials on COVID-19 and said that we need to be proactive in light of the new variant while laying emphasis on the precautions to contain the virus.
It is reported that Modi was briefed about the COVID-19 situation across the world, including the new 'variant of concern' Omicron along with its characteristic and the impact on different countries.
Prime Minister Modi asked officials to review plans to ease restrictions on international travel in light of global concern over omicron.
“The PM said that in light of the new threat, people need to be more cautious and the need to take proper precautions like masking and social distancing. PM highlighted the need for monitoring all international arrivals, their testing as per guidelines, with a specific focus on countries identified ‘at risk’,” the Prime Minister's Office said in the statement.
“The PM also asked officials to review plans for easing international travel restrictions in light of the emerging new evidence,” the statement said.
The call to review easing of international travel restrictions comes less than a day after the government said scheduled international passenger flights could resume from 15 December.
The meeting was attended by top officials including Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Principal Secretary to the prime minister PK Mishra, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and NITI Aayog member (health) Dr VK Paul.
The meeting came amid rising global concern about the B.1.1.529 strain of the coronavirus, which the World Health Organisation named as Omicron on Friday and termed as a ‘variant of concern’.
According to WHO, this variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.
Europe has already recorded its first case of the new COVID-19 variant in Belgium. Health minister Frank Vandenbroucke confirmed the same, saying, "We have a case that is now confirmed of this variant. This is someone who came from abroad, who tested positive on 22 November, who was not vaccinated."
Several European countries including France, Germany and Italy, and the United States along with Canada and Australia have already imposed new travel restrictions with South Africa and neighbouring countries.
India registered 8,318 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. This is 21.1 percent lower than what was recorded on Friday morning. India's cumulative caseload now stands at 3,45,63,749. In the last 24 hours, India also reported 465 coronavirus deaths, taking the country's toll to 4,67,933. India administered 73,58,017 COVID-19 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours. The total number of doses administered in India so far is 1,21,06,58,262.
With inputs from agencies