‘Be alert to threat of Omicron’: PM Modi warns amid rising concerns
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday urged Indians to remain vigilant against Omicron, the Sars-CoV-2 mutation first detected in Africa that has been designated a variant of concern by the World Health Organization.
“We should be alert to the new variant. I also request all members of Parliament and you also to be alert because everyone’s health is our priority in this hour of crisis,” Modi said in an address to the media ahead of the winter session of Parliament. “We have administered more than 100 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines during the challenging times of the pandemic. Now we are moving towards 150 crore doses.”
Modi said the government’s priority has been to ensure the health of people. On Saturday, the Prime Minister chaired a high-level meeting that lasted almost two hours to review public health preparedness and Covid-19 vaccination.
Cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba, principal secretary to the Prime Minister PK Mishra, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan and Niti Aayog member (health) VK Paul attended the meeting, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
No cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in India so far.
During the meeting, officials briefed Modi about the new variant of concern, designated as B.1.1.529 and latter named Omicron, along with its characteristics and the impact seen in various countries. Its implications for India were also discussed, and Modi spoke about the need to be proactive in light of the new variant. He added that people need to more cautious and take precautions such as masking and social distancing.
He also highlighted the need for monitoring all international arrivals, and their testing as per guidelines with a specific focus on countries identified as “at risk”. Modi spoke about the need to increase genome sequencing efforts and make it more broad-based, and directed officials to work closely with state governments to ensure that there is proper awareness at the state and district levels.