The new Covid-19 variant Omicron has not been reported in India yet, Union Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya informed Parliament on Tuesday.
“The Omicron variant has been detected in 14 countries so far. There is no case of Omicron in India yet. We are immediately checking suspicious cases and conducting genome sequencing. We are also taking all possible precautions,” he said in the Rajya Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament.
This new variant #Omicron has been found in 14 countries. There is no case of Omicron in India yet. We are immediately checking suspicious cases and conducting genome sequencing. We are also taking all possible precautions: Union Health Minister @mansukhmandviya in #RajyaSabha pic.twitter.com/HAVn8wtVbV
— PIB India (@PIB_India) November 30, 2021
Mandaviya also said that the central government has issued an advisory based on the global developments related to the new variant and is keeping a keen watch on ports.
Speaking during the Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, the minister added that studies are being conducted on the Omicron.
Stressing on the need to take all precautions, Mandaviya said, “We have learnt a lot during the pandemic. We have resources and labs to check. All measures have been taken to ensure this variant does not reach the country”.
Earlier in the day, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan held a review meeting with states and UTs and advised them to ramp up testing for early identification and management of cases.
While underlining that the new variant doesn’t escape RT-PCR and RAT tests, Bhushan asked states and UTs to ensure adequate infrastructure and supervised home isolation.
The ministry has asked all states and UTs to focus on intensive containment, active surveillance, enhanced testing, monitoring of hotspots, increased coverage of vaccination and augmentation of health infrastructure.
In a letter to states and UTs on November 28, Bhushan also stressed on rigorous surveillance of international passengers, ensuring prompt dispatch of samples for genome sequencing and strict enforcement of Covid-appropriate behaviour to effectively manage this variant of concern (VoC).
The B.1.1.529 Covid variant or Omicron, first detected in South Africa last week, was designated by the World Health Organization as a ‘variant of concern’, the health body’s top category for worrying coronavirus variants.
WHO has further said that it is likely to spread internationally and poses a very high risk of infection surges that could have “severe consequences” in some places.