Here are the latest updates on the new coronavirus variant:

  1. India’s tally of Omicron variant cases on Thursday rose to 87 with 14 new infections. Of these, Maharashtra has 32 cases, Rajasthan has 17, Delhi has 10 and Karnataka has eight.
  2. Delhi detected four more cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, pushing the infection tally in the national Capital to 10, said Health Minister Satyendar Jain, reported PTI. The minister said many international travellers are turning out to be Covid positive upon arrival at the Delhi airport.  
  3. Cases of Omicron variant could see a surge in January across Maharashtra, said Additional Chief Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas, ANI reported. Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has requested residents to get both shots of the coronavirus vaccine. Four new patients infected with the Omicron variant were discovered in the state on Wednesday.
  4. The director of Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Dr Anurag Agarwal, said that early phase of a virus variant is mild, and that experts may understand the Omicron strain better by the end of December, News18 reported. He added that the wave of an infectious disease aggravates when the virus reaches home and infects the elderly. Agarwal suggested preparing the healthcare system to combat the Omicron wave.
  5. World Health Organization Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said that had vaccines been distributed equitably across the world, the Omicron wave could have been prevented, NDTV reported. “What went wrong can be described in many ways, including vaccine nationalism,” she said. “I think every country’s leaders wanted to protect their own people. But in a pandemic, you also have to keep this in mind that if you are not protecting people around the world, the virus is going to change and come back in a different variant.”
  6. The United Kingdom on Thursday recorded 88,376 cases of coronavirus, its highest since the beginning of the pandemic in January 2020, AFP reported. On Wednesday, the country has registered more than 78,000 cases. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that hospitalisations have increased by 10% and that it was necessary for the citizens to get booster shots. Meanwhile, England’s Chief Medical Officer Christ Whitty said that the Omicron coronavirus variant posed a serious threat, Reuters reported. “The how big a threat – there are several things we do not know, but all the things that we do know, are bad,” he said.
  7. South Korea said on Thursday that it will re-impose restrictions on businesses and implement stricter rules on social distancing amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, Al-Jazeera reported. Under the new rules, gatherings will be limited to four persons as long as they are vaccinated, and restaurants will need to be closed by 9 pm. On Thursday, the country reported 7,622 new Covid-19 cases, while on Wednesday, it registered a record high of 7,850 cases.
  8. South Africa on Wednesday reported 26,976 Covid-19 cases, surpassing the record of 26,485 daily patients it had detected in July during the third wave driven by the Delta strain, Reuters reported.
  9. White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr Anthony Fauci said that the two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech are compromised by the Omicron variant, CNBC reported. He urged people to take booster shots as they work against the new strain of the virus. He added that at this stage there was no need for a variant-specific booster.
  10. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control on Wednesday urged the countries to accelerate the pace of vaccination, saying that a rapid increase in the number of Omicron cases was imminent, Xinhua news agency reported. Twenty-seven countries in the European Union and the European Economic Area had reported 2,692 cases of Omicron variant till Wednesday.