Be proactive, review ease on international travel: PM Modi amid omicron scare

Published on Nov 27, 2021 02:37 PM IST

PM Modi chaired a high-level meeting, which lasted almost two hours, to review the public health preparedness and vaccination-related situation for Covid-19 in the country.

PM Modi chaired the meeting on the situation on omicron, Covid-19 and vaccination with top officials. (ANI Photo)
PM Modi chaired the meeting on the situation on omicron, Covid-19 and vaccination with top officials. (ANI Photo)
By | Written by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday asked officials to review plans to ease restrictions on international travel in light of global concern over omicron, the recently-discovered variant of the coronavirus.

The Prime Minister’s comments came after he chaired a high-level meeting, which lasted almost two hours, to review the public health preparedness and vaccination-related situation for Covid-19 in the country.

As officials briefed PM Modi about omicron, its characteristics and the impact seen in various countries, its implications for India were also discussed, Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “PM spoke about the need to be proactive in light of the new variant.”

Also read | Omicron Covid variant: What do we know about risks, symptoms, tests

“The PM said that in light of the new threat, people need to be more cautious and the need to take proper precautions like masking and social distancing. PM highlighted the need for monitoring all international arrivals, their testing as per guidelines, with a specific focus on countries identified ‘at risk’,” the PMO said in the statement.

“The PM also asked officials to review plans for easing international travel restrictions in light of the emerging new evidence,” the statement said.

Also watch | Covid Omicron variant: PM Modi issues instructions in 2-hour meeting amid alarm over new strain

The meeting was held amid worries over omicron, the new coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa, which experts have said has a significantly high number of mutations. They have said that omicron could be more resistant to vaccines, have increased transmissibility and have serious public health implications.

As the variant was reported from Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel, and Belgium, governments from the US to Hong Kong tightened restrictions on travel from countries in southern Africa after the discovery of the new mutation. 

Also read | Omicron: Anyone coming from South Africa to be quarantined in Mumbai, says mayor

India has also added several countries to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival, including post-arrival testing for infection.

The Union ministry of health and family welfare has added Hong Kong and Israel to the list of countries.

The Prime Minister was also briefed about the global trends on Covid-19 infections and cases as he reviewed the national situation relating to the infections and test positivity rates.

Also read | Omicron: Why the new coronavirus variant is so scary? Experts explain

“He also directed officials to work closely with state governments to ensure that there is proper awareness at the state and district level. He directed that intensive containment and active surveillance should continue in clusters reporting higher cases and required technical support be provided to states which are reporting higher cases presently,” according to the PMO statement.

The meeting was attended by cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba, VK Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, home secretary AK Bhalla, health secretary Rajesh Bhushan and other senior officials.

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