In view of the emerging new variant of COVID-19 in South Africa, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar called for a meeting on Sunday to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the state.
Addressing the reporters yesterday, Pawar, who is also the Guardian Minister for the District of Pune, said, "We held a meeting today with some officials. As compared to previous months, the situation is good here. The situation in Pune is good, but restrictions may be imposed. But at a global level, a different variant (Omicron) is spreading fast in some countries. We are monitoring the situation. Tomorrow, again, a meeting with all district collectors and divisional commissioners is scheduled and will discuss over COVID-19 issue."
"To take steps to stop flight operations with South Africa etc, hopefully, a discussion will be held with the Prime Minister soon. Tomorrow, in the meeting, some steps will have to be taken (particularly related to the South Africa variant) to stop the spread from that area/of that variant here," Pawar said.
Amid rising concern about a new COVID-19 variant first detected in South Africa, the Union Health Ministry on Thursday directed states to "rigorously' screen and test people travelling from three countries--South Africa, Botswana, and Hong Kong-- where the cases of the variant have been reported.
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in a letter on Thursday to health secretaries of all states and Union Territories, said: "lt has now been reported by National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) that multiple cases of a COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529 have been reported in Botswana (3 cases), South Africa (6 cases) and Hong Kong (1 case). This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel." "lt is therefore imperative that ALL international travellers travelling from and transiting through these countries, (they are part of the "at-risk" Country Category of international travellers coming to India) and also including all other 'at risk' countries indicated in the revised guidelines for international arrivals issued by this Ministry dated November 11, 2021, are subjected to rigorous screening and testing, as per MoHFW Guidelines. The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per MoHFW guidelines," the letter read.