Here are the latest updates on the new coronavirus variant:

  1. Mumbai’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, on Tuesday issued fresh guidelines for celebrations New Year and Christmas in public spaces, reported News18. A 50% occupancy will be allowed in venues with closed spaces, while the civic body imposed a 25% limit on attendees for outdoor events. The BMC also made it compulsory for party organisers to acquire a written permission from authorities if more than 200 people are invited to events.
  2. Odisha detected its first two cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, health officials said on Tuesday, reported PTI. Both of the patients had travelled to foreign countries – Nigeria and Qatar. They have been admitted to a hospital and their health condition is stable. Officials said the contacts of the infected persons have tested negative for the disease. Meanwhile, Maharashtra detected 11 new Omicron cases, eight of which were found in Mumbai, the Hindustan Times reported, citing health officials. Three cases of the variant were also found in Jammu and Kashmir.   
  3. More than 200 cases of the Omicron variant have so far been reported in the countryMaharashtra and Delhi currently have the highest number of Omicron cases, followed by Telangana and Karnataka, according to the Union health ministry. A total of 77 persons infected with the variant have recovered or have been discharged across the country till now.
  4. United States Joe Biden will announce several steps on Tuesday to ensure that states and health systems across the country have the infrastructure and supplies needed to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant, the White House said in a statement. These steps include deploying 1,000 troops to hospitals during January and February if needed, sending six emergency response teams to states and distributing 500 million, or 50 crore, rapid tests for free to citizens from January.
  5. Biden’s measures came amid a rapid increase in Omicron cases in the US. The variant has now become the dominant strain of the virus in the country, AFP reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the new strain accounts for 73.2% of the new cases in the past week.  
  6. In view of the Omicron cases, the Karnataka government has said no parties or mass gathering would be allowed in the state from December 30 to January 2, reported PTI. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said that clubs and restaurants will be allowed to function at only 50% of their capacity but there will be a ban on organising parties and Disc Jockey events.
  7. Biotechnology company Bharat Biotech has applied to the Drugs Controller General of India for permission to conduct Phase 3 trials of a booster dose of its intranasal Covid-19 vaccine, Reuters reported. A spokesperson for the company said that a booster dose in the form of an intranasal vaccine will be easier to administer during mass vaccination campaigns.
  8. The National Hockey League in the US announced that it will pause its season on Wednesday, two days before the planned Christmas break, reported CNBC. The decision was made amid several Covid-19 outbreaks. The season is set to resume on December 27.
  9. The World Economic Forum announced that it was suspending its annual meeting of world leaders in Davos, Switzerland, due to the Omicron outbreak. The meeting, which was scheduled to start from December 17, will now be held in early summer, the forum said.
  10. Meanwhile, Israel announced a ban on travel to the United States from Tuesday due to the spread of the Omicron variant, reported Reuters. Israeli citizens would need special permission to fly to the US, which is now one of over 50 countries to which the residents cannot travel.