Prime Minister Narendra Modi is chairing an important meeting on the COVID-19 situation and the vaccination drive in the country with top officials.
The meeting comes amid rising global concerns over a new strain of the coronavirus which the World Health Organization has named 'Omicron' and classified as a highly transmissible virus of concern.
The meeting is being attended by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, P K Mishra, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan and NITI Aayog member (health) Dr V K Paul among others.
Amid rising concern about a new COVID-19 variant 'Omicron' first detected in South Africa, India also added several countries to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing for infection.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare adds Hong Kong and Israel to the list of countries from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing considering the detection of new COVID variant 'Omicron' in South Africa.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified the new Covid variant detected in southern Africa this week as the 'Variant of Concern' following the Technical Advisory Group meeting on Friday.
"Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology, the TAG-VE has advised WHO that this variant should be designated as a Variant of Concern and the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a VOC, named Omicron", said the global health body in a statement.
The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on November 24, 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9, 2021.
The WHO has asked the countries to enhance surveillance and sequencing efforts to better understand circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants and submit complete genome sequences and associated metadata to a publicly available database. The WHO has reminded to take measures to reduce their risk of Covid-19, including proven public health and social measures such as wearing well-fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces, and getting vaccinated.