Here are the latest updates about the new coronavirus variant on Friday:

  1. A day after India’s first two cases of the Omicron variant were detected in Karnataka, the state issued a fresh set of guidelines to contain the spread of the new variant, after Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai chaired a meeting, The News Minute reported. Only fully vaccinated people will now be allowed to enter public places like malls, theatres and cinema halls in the state. “No cultural gatherings or events will be held in schools and colleges in view of the cases that are being reported,” Ashoka said.
  2. Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashoka said that the state government has ordered an investigation into the RT-PCR reports of one of the patients, ANI reported. “The person stayed at a hotel and held some meetings there,” he added, referring to a 66-year-old South African man “After that, he went away to Dubai, so there are two reports, one positive and one negative, which is doubtful, [the] lab must be investigated.”
  3. Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya told the Lok Sabha that the government will take a decision on the need for booster doses and vaccination of kids after scientific advise, PTI reported. He asked Opposition MPs, who demanded a third shot for healthcare workers and the vulnerable, to trust scientists.
  4. The Indian SARS-COV-2 genome consortium or INSACOG has suggested that booster shots of the Covid-19 vaccine should be considered for those over the age of 40. On Monday, VK Paul, the chairperson of India’s Covid-19 task force, had said that a policy on booster shots would be announced in two weeks.
  5. The health ministry said the severity of the new variant could be low. “Given the fast pace of vaccination in India and high exposure to Delta variant as evidenced by high seropositivity, the severity of the disease is anticipated to be low,” the ministry said in a statement. “However, scientific evidence is still evolving.”
  6. The administration of Haryana’s Gurugram city has made wearing masks in public places mandatory, The Indian Express reported. The city recorded 19 new coronavirus cases on Thursday. “This is perhaps the highest in the last four months,” the district’s chief medical officer Virender Yadav said. “The situation is under control, but we are making constant efforts to contain any potential spread of the infection, especially amid concerns of the new Omicron variant.”
  7. Mizoram is expected to soon introduce new guidelines to deal with the Omicron variant, PTI reported. The state’s Covid-19 management has submitted a draft of the guidelines to the government for the screening of travellers from abroad.
  8. The World Heath Organization has deployed a team in South Africa’s Gauteng province for surveillance and contact tracing amid the spread of the Omicron variant, Reuters reported. The Omicron variant was first detected in a sample obtained from the province in November, according to The Guardian.
  9. The World Health Organization on Friday said that it had not recorded any deaths due to the Omicron variant of coronavirus yet, AFP reported. The health body has also said that measures used to counter the Delta variant of coronavirus should be employed to fight the Omicron strain as well, AP reported. It added that travel restrictions imposed by countries around the world could buy time to know more about the new variant.
  10. The Omicron variant has been detected in at least five states in the United States, according to AP. This has prompted the country to tighten travel restrictions. All international passengers have to get tested for the coronavirus at least 24 hours before they leave for the US, the BBC reported. Flights from eight southern African countries have been banned by the US.