No cases of Omicron Covid-19 variant in India, health minister Mandaviya tells Parliament


Amid concerns about the looming threat of the new Omicron or the B.1.1.529 variant of Covid-19, the Union government on Tuesday said that there were no reported cases of the variant in the country, so far. The statement was made by Union health and family welfare minister Mansukh Mandaviya in the Rajya Sabha during Parliament’s Winter Session on the day.

“No case of Omicron Covid-19 variant has been reported in India so far,” news agency ANI quoted the minister as saying during the Question Hour. “We are immediately checking suspicious cases and conducting genome sequencing. We have learnt a lot during the Covid crisis. Today, we have a lot of resources and laboratories. We can manage any situation,” the minister was further quoted as saying.

Also read | Omicron variant doesn’t escape Covid-19 tests: Health secy at review meeting

The minister’s remarks came a day after senior government officials on Monday had also reportedly said that there were no cases of the variant, feared to be much more transmissible, detected in India. However, the officials also said that the results of the genomic analysis of international passengers who have arrived in India recently were being expedited, news agency PTI reported.

Meanwhile, the Centre’s ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ door-to-door vaccination campaign has been extended and will continue until December 31 with a focus on inoculation of first doses to all eligible populations in the country and also for completing the backlog in administering second doses, the Union health ministry said.

On Tuesday, the Union home ministry announced that the existing restrictions related to Covid-19 in the country would be extended till the end of the year (December 31). The ministry also stressed the need for strict compliance with the advisory issued by the Union health ministry in light of the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Earlier in the day, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan held a review meeting with states and Union territories during which they were advised to enhance testing of international passengers for Covid-19 strengthen the testing infrastructure and also trace their contacts.

“Union health secretary advised states to not to let their guards down, and keep a strict vigil on the international passengers coming to the country through various airports, ports and land border crossings,” the health ministry said in a statement.

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