New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Indian officials to review plans for the easing of international travel restrictions after the emergence of the new omicron variant.
India needs to be “proactive in light of the new variant,” Modi said as he chaired a high-level meeting on the COVID-19 situation and the pace of vaccinations in the country.
The prime minister “highlighted the need for monitoring all international arrivals, their testing as per guidelines, with a specific focus on countries identified ‘at risk,’” the government said in a statement after the meeting. He “also asked officials to review plans for easing of international travel restrictions in light of the emerging new evidence,” it said.
On Friday, the Press Trust of India cited the civil aviation ministry as saying that scheduled international flights to and from India will resume from December 15.
Modi also directed the officials to increase the second dose coverage of the vaccine.
While giving directions to top officials for increasing the second dose coverage, he also said, that states need to be sensitised on the need to ensure that all those who have got the first dose are given the second dose in timely.
Modi was also apprised of the progress in vaccination and the efforts being made under the ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign.
Modi was also briefed about the COVID-19 situation across the world, including the new Variant of Concern ‘Omicron’ along with its characteristics and the impact seen in various countries.
Amid rising concern about the variant ‘Omicron’ first detected in South Africa, India also added several countries to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing for infection.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare added Hong Kong and Israel to the list of countries from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing considering the detection of new COVID variant ‘Omicron’ in South Africa.
Countries from where the travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India are South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Israel, Hong Kong, countries in Europe including the UK.
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.