Anyone coming from omicron-hit South Africa to be quarantined in Mumbai, announces mayor
India so far has not imposed any flight ban, but directed states to start rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from Africa or countries where the omicron variant cases have been reported.
Every individual arriving in Mumbai from South Africa will be quarantined in the wake of the spread of the new omicron variant of coronavirus there, the city's mayor Kishori Pednekar announced on Saturday. The samples collected from these people will be sent for genome sequencing, she was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
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Pednekar made the announcement as calls grow for banning the flights coming to India from South Africa. A few hours ago, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop these flights.
"I urge Hon’ble PM to stop flights from those countries which are affected by new variant. With great difficulty, our country has recovered from Corona. We shud do everything possible to prevent this new variant from entering India," he said on Twitter.
The Prime Minister is holding a virtual meeting today to review the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) situation in the country and the pace of the ongoing vaccination drive.
The government has not imposed any flight ban, but directed states to start rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from African of omicron-affected countries. India has not reported any case of omicron.
After being detected in Botswana in southern Africa on November 9, omicron is fast spreading across the world, jumping continents in matter of days. It has so far been reported in Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has already categorised omicron as 'variant of concern'. It has 32 mutations, more than any other variant of coronavirus. Till now, the delta variant was wreaking havoc across the globe; omicron has twice as many mutations as delta.
Countries have raced to announce travel bans. Thailand is the latest to join the growing list, banning entry of people from eight African countries: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Earlier, the European Union, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Russia too announced similar curbs. The United States too has imposed travel ban from the region, with exceptions for American citizens and permanent residents and for a few other categories, including spouses and other close family.