Here are the latest updates about the new coronavirus variant:

  1. India’s case count of the Omicron variant on Monday rose to 23 after two more cases were reported in Maharashtra. Now, there are overall 10 patients who have tested positive for the strain in Maharashtra, nine cases in Rajasthan, two in Karnataka and one each in Delhi and Gujarat.
  2. A notice was issued to the Etihad Airways in Delhi for not following the rule of randomly testing 2% of the passengers on two flights that landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport from Abu Dhabi on Sunday and Monday, PTI reported.
  3. The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to discuss administering additional Covid-19 vaccine doses to those with weakened immune systems and inoculation of children, PTI reported, citing unidentified officials. However, members of the group did not reach a consensus on the matters.
  4. United States’ health officials said that the Omicron variant has spread to about one-third of the country’s states but the Delta version remained the majority of Covid-19 infection, reported Reuters. The states of New York, Connecticut, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, Utah, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin have so far reported Omicron cases, according to a Reuters tally. 
  5. Amid concerns about the Omicron variant, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya reviewed RT-PCR testing facilities for passengers coming from at-risk countries at the Delhi airport. In a tweet, the health minister said 35 RT-PCR testing machines were functional within the Terminal 3 of the airport and the testing time could be reduced to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, three more foreign travellers were admitted to the city’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, PTI reported. Two have Covid-19, though it is not yet confirmed if they are Omicron cases. The third traveller is a suspected case of Covid-19. 
  6. Nepal’s health ministry said that the country has detected two cases of the Omicron variant, reported Mint. The ministry said that one of the patients is a 66-year-old foreigner, who came to Nepal on November 19 and another is a 71-year-old who has been identified as the first patient’s primary contact. Russia also detected its first two cases of the variant, AP reported. Both the patients had returned from South Africa. Meanwhile, Thailand reported its first case in an American citizen who travelled to the country from Spain in November.
  7. South Africa said it was preparing its hospitals for more admissions as the Omicron variant pushed the country towards the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported. Cases in the country have increased from about 2,300 on November 29 to to over 16,000 on December 3.
  8. The Maharashtra government has asked districts to procure the S-gene Target Failure test, which enables quick detection of the Omicron variant, reported The Indian Express. However, no other districts apart from Mumbai and Pune have these test kits in the state. The test detects the absence of the S-gene, which is an indicator of the presence of the Omicron variant in a patient by the coronavirus disease.
  9. Around 200 people who came in contact with the first two patients of the Omicron variant in India have been traced and isolated, reported NDTV. Gaurav Gupta, the commissioner of Bengaluru’s civic body Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, said that some of these people have tested positive for Covid-19 and their samples have been sent for genome sequencing. 
  10. Dr Anthony Fauci, the chief medical advisor to United States President Joe Biden, has said that the initial reports on the Omicron variant indicate that it may be less dangerous than the Delta version, reported the Hindustan Times. However, he cautioned against drawing conclusions about the severity of illness caused by Omicron based on early data. Meanwhile, World Health Organization epidemiologist Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said that even if a large number of Omicron cases were mild, some of those would need hospitalisations.