New Delhi: The state governments in India have started taking precautionary measures following the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) labelling of the new Covid-19 strain ‘Omicron’ as the ‘variant of concern’.
The ‘Omicron’ variant has wreaked havoc in southern Africa and is already being reported in several other parts of the world.
With the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) stressing that it is yet to figure out how the new variant behaves at an individual level and at the population level, states have announced new measures to deal with another potential outbreak of the deadly virus.
Kerala Health Minister Veena George announced that the state has taken necessary actions. Following the Centre’s guidelines, Kerala authorities are conducting serious surveillance at airports.
Passengers coming from other countries are travelling after undergoing RT-PCR test at the point of origin. After reaching Kerala, passengers are being subjected to RT-PCR testing while a 7-day quarantine is also required.
As far as Kerala is concerned, the state is constantly examining the presence of mutant virus in samples.
Karnataka government has intensified screening of international passengers at airports, heightened border checks, asking educational institutions to postpone their public events.
Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai today chaired a meeting with senior Ministers, officials, health experts and COVID advisory team regarding the current situation and precautionary measures to be taken.
He said RT-PCR negative report is mandatory for those travelling to state from Kerala and Maharashtra and authorities deployed at checkpoints have to compulsorily check it.
Students who have travelled to the state from Kerala 16 days ago have to undergo RT-PCR test, despite them possessing negative test reports and those staying in hostels will also have to undergo tests once again after seven days, despite having negative certificates now.
In Maharashtra, all travellers from foreign countries shall be governed by directions of the Central government while domestic travellers arriving in the state shall either be fully vaccinated or carry a negative RT-PCR test report valid for 72 hours.
Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar had said earlier in the day that passengers from South Africa, where cases of the new variant have been found, will be quarantined and their samples will be sent for genome sequencing.
Any person not following Covid-appropriate behaviour (CAB) will be fined Rs 500, new guidelines issued by the government said. If such violation by a person takes place on the premises of an organisation which is supposed to impose CAB, it will be fined Rs 10,000.
If any organisation itself fails to follow CAB, it will face a fine of Rs 50,000, and frequent violations of rules will lead to its closure for the period of the pandemic.
Violation of rules in private taxis or in public transport vehicles will lead to fine of Rs 500, while owner of the transport agency shall be fined Rs 10,000. Full vaccination would be mandatory for using any means of public transport.
Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal instructed senior officials to ensure strict adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour at public places and preparedness at hospitals to deal with any emergency situation.
The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) is likely to take a call on RT-PCR testing of passengers deboarding from international flights, and quarantining of passengers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Hong kong and other countries where a new variant of Covid has been reported.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has also called a meeting with the DDMA to discuss the looming threat of the new Covid variant and necessary precautions to deal with it.