Here are the latest updates about the new coronavirus variant:

  1. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Thursday decided to extend the suspension of international passenger flights to and from India till January 31. On November 26, the aviation regulator had decided to resume scheduled commercial international passenger flights from December 15, but had decided to roll back the decision in view of the Omicron variant.
  2. The Omicron variant of coronavirus is now found in 57 countries, said the World Health Organization on Wednesday, Reuters reported. It added that more people may need hospitalisation if the new variant spreads at a rapid rate. Early data cited by the health body indicated the Omicron variant may more easily re-infect people who have already had the disease or been vaccinated than other variants, but could also cause milder infections.
  3. Preliminary data suggests that hospitalisations due to Covid-19 in South Africa remain low despite the prevalence of the Omicron variant, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. Between November 14 and December 4, intensive care unit occupancy in hospitals was 6.3%, much lower compared to when the country was facing the peak of the Delta variant in July.
  4. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced strict restrictions, including work from home and mandatory Covid-19 passports, in the country as Omicron variant cases increase, reported AFP. The rate of Omicron cases was doubling every two to three days, Johnson said. 
  5. India on Thursday removed Singapore from its list of “at-risk” nations for international travel, ANI reported. The list now includes all countries of Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong and Israel.
  6. The Karnataka government decided not to issue new Covid-19 guidelines after its Technical Advisory Committee chief MK Sudarshan said that the number of coronavirus cases in the state was not alarming, reported The Hindu. The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting headed by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in view of the Omicron variant. The state has also identified two public hospitals for isolating and treating international passengers who test positive fo Covid-19, reported the Hindustan Times
  7. The rates of rapid PCR and RT-PCR tests at the Chennai airport were reduced to Rs 2,900 and Rs 600 per test on Wednesday, reported The News Minute. Earlier, the rapid PCR test cost Rs 3,400 and RT-PCR Rs 700.
  8. Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Commissioner Vijay Suryavanshi said that the first person infected with the Omicron variant in the state has tested negative for Covid-19, reported ANI. Suryavanshi said that he has been discharged from the hospital and advised to stay in home quarantine for seven days.
  9. Cuba has detected its first case of the Omicron variant in a person who travelled from Mozambique, reported Reuters, citing local news channels. Health officials are monitoring the traveller’s contacts since he arrived in the country.
  10. Amid concerns about Omicron variant, the United States Senate approved a resolution to nullify the requirement by Joe Biden administration that businesses with 100 or more workers have their employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit to weekly testing, reported AP.