Several states across India are stepping up precautionary measures in the wake of the emergence of the new COVID-19 'Omicron' variant. Two cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant was reported in Mumbai on Monday, taking India’s total tally of the new coronavirus variant to 23. The first two cases were reported in Karnataka, followed by one in Gujarat and another in Maharashtra. Later on Sunday, seven cases were reported in Maharashtra’s Pune district, of which six belonged to the same family.
Here's a look at steps taken by states across India amid fears of Omicron
More amenities, including special wards in public sector hospitals and enhanced surveillance and testing, are among the several measures taken by authorities aimed at tackling the challenge of 'Omicron', not detected yet in the state, the Tamil Nadu government said on Monday.
Inspecting 50 beds set apart as a precautionary measure at the Omandurar Medical College Hospital, a state-run multi-super speciality facility in Chennai, Health Minister Ma Subramanian said 15 beds were for intensive care and the remaining 35 for specialised treatment.
Similar facilities, ranging from 50 to 150 beds, have been readied in district headquarters hospitals and medical college hospitals across the state. Such hospitals have requisite amenities, including medical equipment and oxygen supply, he said, adding Tamil Nadu has the best labs for RT-PCR testing.
The Uttar Pradesh government has issued guidelines for all districts regarding the Omicron variant of coronavirus, an official statement said on Monday.
Apart from conducting RT-PCR tests of all passengers coming to the state, genome tests of all infected patients are also being carried out according to the guidelines, it said.
Following the confirmation of cases of the new variant in other states of the country, the state government is ensuring strict vigil on the borders and is also emphasising further improving the health facilities in rural and urban areas, the statement said.
Medical facilities are rapidly being improved to deal with the virus. In the state's Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Primary Health Centres (PHCs), 19,000 beds are being increased and 55,000 beds in medical colleges, it added.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed senior officials to make proper arrangements in hospitals for dealing with the new variant. Along with this, the state government is also keeping a close watch on the availability of oxygen, beds, laboratories, the statement said.
Keeping in mind warnings of the World Health Organisation (WHO) about the newly detected coronavirus variant omicron, the West Bengal government has extended the ongoing Covid-19 related restrictions till 15 December.
The decision was made after a review of the current situation of the pandemic… the state executive committee of West Bengal State disaster management authority recommended continuing with the existing restrictions and protocols," the order said.
The restriction and relaxation measures already in force stand extended up to 15 December, it said.
The administration prohibited all outdoor activities including movement of people and vehicles between 11 pm to 5 am except for health services, law and order and essential commodities. The state has already allowed local train movement. Schools, colleges and universities also opened for certain classes from 16 November. The restrictions were first imposed on 16 May.
The Maharashtra government is closely monitoring the prevailing coronavirus situation and any decision on reimposing restrictions in the state will be taken only after seeking the Centre's guidance and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's views, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Monday amid rising concern about overdetection of cases linked to the new variant Omicron.
Speaking to reporters here, Tope said imposing restrictions on the activities allowed in the state at present will be too inconvenient for the people.
It will be too inconvenient for the people if restrictions are imposed on the activities currently allowed. Hence, we will keep a tab on the situation and take a call (on curbs) following the guidance of the Centre and the (state COVID-19) task force and based on the views of the chief minister, he said.
Tope said schools that have not reopened yet should start in-person classes and pitched for observing COVID-19-appropriate behaviour in daily life.
The minister said the state government is focusing on vaccinating people.
The Delhi government is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation arising out of the Omicron variant, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Monday, even as he ruled out the possibility of a lockdown in the national capital.
Interacting with reporters, he said, the city government has already put in place a "graded response action plan", and it will be implemented accordingly, as and when the cases and positivity rate rise.
The Omicron variant is spreading out of a few countries, and "we are putting focus on testing, tracing and isolation of passengers" coming from foreign countries, especially the countries affected by the new variant.
He said the Delhi government authorities are "testing all people coming from the countries affected by the Omicron variant", and cautioned that this variant is far more transmissible than the Delta variant, adding the situation is being "closely monitored".
The Madhya Pradesh government has increased the watch at the state's borders and is taking various precautionary measures in the wake of cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 found in neighbouring states, MP Home Minister Narottam Mishra said on Monday.
Madhya Pradesh shares its border with five states, and the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in three of them - Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
So far, there has been no case of the new COVID-19 variant in MP.
Following cases of Omicron in neighbouring states, we are increasing the watch at Madhya Pradesh borders and taking precautions with utmost concern, said Mishra, who is the state government's spokesman.
With fresh COVID concerns, Karnataka Chief Minister Basvaraj Bommai on Monday said the government is closely monitoring the situation in the state and will take decisions on enforcing further containment measures after consulting the experts.
In the wake of two cases of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus being detected in the state, and fresh COVID clusters emerging, the Karnataka government on Friday had announced certain preventive measures that included compulsory two dose vaccination for entering malls, cinema halls or theatres, and for parents of school or college going students.
"All the advices will be placed before the expert committee, depending on the Omicron and Delta variants spread in the coming days and clusters that are emerging, we will get the opinion of the experts, and take an appropriate decision," Bommai said in response to a question on suggestions regarding imposing restrictions on entry to malls and cinema halls to 50 percent capacity.
Amid rising concerns over 'Omicron', the new variant of COVID-19, surveillance mechanism has been intensified at the international airport here, a senior health official said last week. The Telangana government has also geared up for the possible third wave and has also intensified vaccination programme, he said.
"Towards this new Omicron variant we intensified our surveillance mechanism at the international airport here. Since December 1, as many as 979 international travellers from "at-risk" countries arrived at Hyderabad international airport and on Saturday 70 international travellers came," Director of Public Health (DPH) Dr G Srinivasa Rao told reporters.
RT-PCR tests were conducted on them and so far 13 of them were found positive for COVID-19 and their samples sent for genome sequencing in view of Omicron variant threat, he said.
He further said the Telangana government has fully geared up to meet any eventuality and has also intensified vaccination programme and plans are afoot to further increase vaccination coverage in the coming days.
With inputs from agencies