Centre should take it seriously: Delhi pushes for international flights ban after first Omicron case
A 37-year-old man, who arrived in Delhi from Tanzania, has tested positive for Omicron, making it the first case of the new coronavirus variant in the Capital and the fifth in the country.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain on Sunday reiterated his government’s demand for a ban on international flights as the national capital reported its first case of Omicron variant of the coronavirus taking India’s tally to five so far.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has been tweeting and also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider stopping international flights, saying the city gets affected the most.
On Sunday, the Delhi health minister said banning international flights is the most effective way to contain the spread of the Omicron variant.
“It is being reported that the gestational period in case of Omicron could be more than other variants. This means an infected person may go undetected at the airport,” Jain was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
“All the cases have come from affected foreign countries. The central government should take it seriously,” he also said.
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The Centre has designated European countries, including the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel as "at-risk”.
RT-PCR tests are mandatory for passengers arriving from these “at-risk" countries and these passengers will be allowed to leave the airport only after the results come, according to the new norms.
The new rules say two per cent of the passengers arriving on flights from other countries will be subjected to the test randomly.
On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a strike warning saying the new Omicron variant poses a "very high" global risk and could have "severe consequences" where there are surges.
The country reported the first two cases of the Omicron variant on Thursday in Karnataka as a 66-year-old South African national and a 46-year-old Bengaluru doctor with no travel history tested positive for Covid-19. Both men are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease.
A 72-year-old non-resident Indian man belonging to Jamnagar in Gujarat and a 33-year-old man from Maharashtra tested positive for Omicron on Saturday.
There are a 99 per cent chance masks can “save people from all Covid-19 variants, be it Alpha, Beta, Delta or Omicron”, the Delhi health minister also said.
“Experts have been saying that the third wave of Covid-19 can hit the country in January-February. It can be prevented if everybody wears a mask,” he said.
Jain said more than 90 per cent of the eligible population in Delhi has got the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and 60 per cent of the people have got the second jab. “We appeal to the remaining people to get vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said.
Jain said more than one lakh people are being vaccinated against Covid-19 in Delhi every day. “If we continue at the same speed, everyone will be covered soon.”
He pointed out that many people have not received their second dose of Covishield yet due to the large gap (84 days) between the doses.
Jain, in response to a question on administering a booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, said the Delhi government will follow the notification of the central government and the recommendations of experts.