The government of Tamil Nadu on Monday extended existing restrictions and relaxations in the state till December 15th in view of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron.
According to the order, inter-state public transport to be allowed between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
The state government today decided to use Thermo Fischer TaqPath Assay, a test recommended by the World Health Organization, to detect the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus at the 12 RT-PCR government labs in the state. The routine RT-PCRtests are not technically complete as they often do not test for the S gene, which is absent in the Omicron variant of the virus.
The government earlier in the day informed that no case of the latest variant of coronavirus, 'Omicron', has been detected in the state so far and insisted that surveillance has been stepped up across the airports to prevent its spread. State Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu held a review meeting with District Collectors and other top officials and urged them to ensure all precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Omicron, declared as a Variant of Concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to an official release, he told bureaucrats that no case of the said coronavirus variant has been detected in Tamil Nadu and said measures, including strict surveillance of international air travelers, expediting the vaccination programme and conforming to mask behaviour were needed to check the spread of the virus.
The release said that incoming travelers from South Africa, where Omicron was first detected, and European countries, including the UK, besides Botswana, China and Israel, should compulsorily undergo the RT-PCR test and that they would be allowed to go home only if tested negative for the virus. "Omicron mutated coronavirus has not been detected in Tamil Nadu so far," the release said.
Meanwhile, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Ma Subramanian said that in the wake of the emergence of the Omicron variant, 'cluster areas' were being monitored closely and samples being made to undergo Whole Genome Sequencing. All these tests have only returned Delta variant cases, he told reporters in Chennai.