As yet, no cases of the Omicron strain have been reported in India
''Omicron', a new COVID strain first traced in South Africa last week, is now becoming a cause of concern for the whole world. WHO on Friday alarmed the siren among countries after the classification of a new strain of COVID-19 in South Africa. The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health released a statement informing the same.
The recently designated variant of coronavirus B.1.1.529 is of concern and has more mutations than science knows about other alarming variants, read the statement. As per WHO, existing coronavirus vaccines may be less effective against the new COVID-19 variant. The FOPH also informed that this new strain is more transmissible than the previous globally dominant 'delta' variant. Spreading fast, the strain has plagued almost all provinces of South Africa and has also been traced in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.
India increases testing for travellers coming from 'At-Risk' Countries
As yet, India has not reported cases of Omicron but has raised a caution and has increased the testing for the same. The nation has also updated the list of at-risk countries to prevent the invasion of the new VOC here. The Centre has directed the state governments to increase screening and testing of all international travellers, arriving in India, from all countries listed in the high-risk category.
The list presently comprises UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.
India's Omicron tracing plan
“It is a new variant. We need to wait and watch. We do not know its overall infectivity but the probability is that it may bypass your existing immunity either acquired through vaccines or natural infection. If it bypasses, it will be a serious issue", stated Dr Sanjau Rai, Centre of Medicine at AIIMS.
For this, the country has decided to trace the virus promptly. The Union Health Secretary directed concerned health officials across all states and Union Territories to ensure strict Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate measures. The Health MInistry's guidelines have also advised rigorous screening and testing of international travellers, specially those coming from African countries.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Government has asked for a review with the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Monday to discuss a new plan of action to arrest the spread of Omicron. Here, experts will present a step-wise strategy to contain the B.1.1.529 strain of the coronavirus.