Here are the latest updates on the new coronavirus variant:

  1. India’s tally of Omicron cases increased to 109 on Friday evening after Maharashtra reported eight more cases of the new variant. Maharashtra has so far reported the highest number of Omicron infections at 40. Delhi reported 12 new cases on Friday, taking the city’s tally to 22. Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have also recorded cases of the new strain.
  2. Indian Council of Medical Research chief Balram Bhargava on Friday urged citizens to avoid non-essential travel and mass gatherings. Meanwhile, Niti Aayog member VK Paul said a new scenario is emerging in Europe. “Countries with high vaccination is also seeing worrying surge in Covid cases,” he added. Citing the World Health Organization, he said the Omicron variant was spreading faster than Delta.
  3. Prison authorities in Delhi have said that they are ramping up measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, PTI reported. Staff members in the three prisons in Delhi – Tihar, Mandoli and Rohini – have been told to spread awareness among inmates about the need to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Sandeep Goel, the director-general of Delhi prisons, told the agency that the department’s entire staff has been fully vaccinated.
  4. The World Health Organization’s Regional Director for South-East Asia, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, said on Thursday that the Omicron should not be dismissed as a mild variant, ANI reported. She added that based on the limited evidence available at present, Omicron seems to be spreading faster than previous variants of Covid-19. “Emerging data from South Africa suggest an increased risk of re-infection with Omicron, but more data are needed to draw firmer conclusions,” she told the news agency.
  5. The health ministers of G7 countries on Thursday said the Omicron variant was the “biggest current threat to global public health”. The ministers, at a meeting focused on the variant, highlighted the importance of equitable access to vaccines, treatments and genome sequencing.
  6. United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on countries to quickly move towards the goal of vaccinating 40% of the population of the world before the end of the year, AP reported. “Vaccine inequity is giving variants a free pass to run wild,” he said.
  7. The United Kingdom registered a record 88,376 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, The Guardian reported. The Omicron variant is causing a surge in cases in the country, AFP reported.
  8. Amid Omicron variant concerns, France will ban United Kingdom tourists from visiting the country from Saturday, reported The Guardian. The French government said that only those with a “compelling reason” will be allowed to travel even if they are fully vaccinated.
  9. In South Africa, officials asked citizens to get vaccinated before attending festive gatherings and travelling amid a rise in cases driven by the Omicron variant, according to AP.
  10. Globally, the coronavirus has infected over 27 crore people and caused more than 53 lakh deaths since the pandemic broke out in December 2019, according to Johns Hopkins University.