1. The Centre told the states on Wednesday that cases of the Omicron variant should only be treated at designated Covid-19 facilities, PTI reported. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan asked the states to take precautions to ensure that the the infection is not transmitted to other patients and healthcare workers at those facilities. 
  2. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on Tuesday warned of a rise in deaths and hospitalisations in Europe if Covid-19 vaccination rate does not improve, AFP reported. Centre Director Andrea Ammon said that the Omicron variant had made the “whole situation worrying”.
  3. The World Health Organization on Tuesday said that the Omicron variant of coronavirus is unlikely to dodge the protection provided by vaccines, AFP reported. WHO Emergencies Director Michael Ryan added that the Omicron variant was not as harmful as the Delta strain.
  4. Maharashtra Additional Chief Secretary Pradeep Vyas wrote to the Union Health Ministry pointing out that the rate of RT-PCR tests, fixed at Rs 4,500, at Mumbai airport was too high, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday. Maharashtra has increased Covid-19 testing at airports in the wake of the Omicron variant.
  5. The Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday imposed a curfew under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code in Lucknow district till January 5 citing concerns about the Omicron variant, Mint reported. Meanwhile, the government has started preparing for 2022 Prayagraj Magha Mela by keeping in view the emergence of the Omicron variant, ANI reported. Prayagraj District Magistrate said that the authorities were aware of the new variant and so they have placed health teams at railway stations and airports to test people. Testing camps will also be placed at the fair.
  6. Sikkim government relaxed the ban on entry of foreign nationals in the state that it had imposed last week amid growing cases of Omicron variant across the world, the Hindustan Times reported on Wednesday. The travellers, however, will have to produce a negative RT-PCR test report conducted within 72 hours of their entry to the state.
  7. Mumbai’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, will procure S-gene RT-PCR kits, which are useful in early detection of the Omicron variant, The Indian Express reported. Health officials told the newspaper that tenders will be issued to procure the kits for all civic-run Covid testing centres.
  8. Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that a decision on issuing a fresh set of guidelines to deal with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 will be taken after a Cabinet meeting on Thursday., PTI reported.
  9. In the United Kingdom, scientists have identified a “stealth version” of Omicron that cannot be distinguished from other variants using the RT-PCR tests, The Guardian reported on Tuesday. The “stealth version” of the variant came to light as the United Kingdom discovered 101 more cases of the Omicron variant, taking the country’s tally to 437.
  10. The African Union on Tuesday called for an end to travel restrictions imposed by some of its member countries, Reuters reported. It said that such an embargo was a penalty for the governments that quickly shared data on the Omicron variant when it emerged in November. The African Union said that the measures act “as a disincentive for information sharing in the future, potentially posing a threat to health security on the continent and globally”.