Amid the outbreak of COVID-19's new variant Omicron, the Union Ministry of Home affairs held an emergency meeting chaired by the home secretary. The spokesperson of the ministry said that the central government will review SOP on testing and surveillance of incoming international passengers, especially for those countries identified ‘at risk’ category.
The decisions were taken at an urgent meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and attended by various stakeholders, an official spokesperson said.
The meeting was held a day after a high-level review by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the new COVID-19 variant of concern 'Omicron'.
It was held with various health experts, Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, Dr. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Prime Minister, and senior officers from Health, Civil Aviation and other Ministries.
During the meeting, Overall global situation in wake of Omicron virus was comprehensively reviewed. Various preventive measures in place and to be further strengthened were discussed.
Further during the meeting, it was decided that genomic surveillance for variants will be further strengthened and intensified.
Airport Health Officials (APHOs) and Port Health Officials (PHOs) shall also be sensitized for strict supervision of testing protocol at airports and ports.
As per evolving global scenario, the government will also review the decision on effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passengers service.
Meanwhile, the government will also continue to maintain its closer watch on emerging pandemic situation within the country.
After a long hiatus of more than 20 months, the government had on November 26 announced the resumption of scheduled international commercial flights from December 15.
The new, potentially more contagious B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on November 24 and has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.
It was on Friday designated as a "Variant of Concern" by the WHO, which named it Omicron. A variant of concern is the WHO's top category of worrying COVID-19 variants.