PM Modi chairs key Covid-19 meet, virtually meets top govt officials

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired a key meeting with top government officials to discuss the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) situation in India and the nationwide vaccination process to stem the course of the pandemic. The development comes at a time when concerns are rising over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, first detected in South Africa and widely deemed by global infectious disease experts as carrying frequent mutations and a faster transmission rate.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the top-level meeting today was chaired virtually by Narendra Modi. Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba, principal secretary to Prime Minister PK Mishra, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan, and Niti Aayog member (health) VK Paul were among the attendees. 

This was the second such meeting by the Prime Minister this month. Earlier on November 3, he met with the officials of districts where the vaccination coverage was low and the respective chief ministers.

Earlier this day, Prime Minister Modi received a request from the chief minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, to stop all flights from those countries affected by the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Notably, India has already added several countries – including Hong Kong and Israel – to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on entry, including post-arrival testing for infection.

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus, first detected in South Africa, has since spread to several other countries, including Israel and Hong Kong. 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.

No cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus have, however, been reported in India yet, according to the central government, although concerns still run high. The country reported 8,318 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, as per the bulletin issued by the Union health ministry on Saturday, while the death toll has climbed to 4,67,933.

With 10,967 fresh recoveries, the total recoveries stand at 3,39,88,797. The recovery rate is currently at 98.34 per cent, which is the highest since March 2020. The active case accounts for less than 1 per cent of total cases, currently at 0.31 per cent, the lowest since March 2020, at 1,07,019.

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