Here are the latest updates on the new coronavirus variant:

  1. Mumbai on Saturday reported 757 new Covid-19 infections, marking the highest number of cases recorded over 24 hours for the third straight day. Saturday’s count was also the highest since October. The city reported 683 infections on Friday, 602 on Thursday, 490 on Wednesday, 327 on Tuesday, and 204 on Monday. Maharashtra reported 1,485 new coronavirus cases and zero deaths on Saturday. Meanwhile, Delhi registered 249 new Covid-19 infections, which is the highest count since June 13, reported PTI.
  2. India has recorded 415 Omicron cases and 115 patients have recovered, the health ministry said on Saturday morning. The majority of Omicron infections have been reported from Maharashtra (108), Delhi (79), Gujarat (43), Telangana (38), Kerala (37), Tamil Nadu (34). No state in the North East has recorded any Omicron infection.
  3. On Friday, the government said an analysis of 183 Omicron cases showed that 91% of all those who contracted the new strain were fully vaccinated and three of them had received booster shots. The analysis, the government said, also showed that 70% patients are asymptomatic.
  4. Indian Council of Medical Research Director General Balram Bhargava said that the Delta variant was still the predominant strain of coronavirus in the country, including in recently identified clusters. “The infection with Omicron does not necessarily lead to severe symptomatic clinical disease,” he said.
  5. The Indian government is facing pressure from business leaders and public health experts to launch a Covid-19 booster drive as studies have shown that a third vaccine shot strengthens the body’s immune response against the virus significantly. “We need a booster policy for sure,” Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw told Bloomberg. “I really don’t know what’s holding it up it’s got nothing to do with vaccine availability.”
  6. The Delhi government ordered the Sarojini Nagar Market to operate on an odd-even basis on weekends. “Increasing footfalls were seen in Sarojini Nagar market during last few days; and therefore with the need to control the same in light of the rapid spike in daily cases and positivity,” an order said. The High Court also took note of the overcrowding, saying that the situation is frightening in the market and can lead to a stampede, the Hindustan Times reported.
  7. The Gujarat government extended the night curfew in the state by two hours amid the spread of the new strain. The curfew will come into effect from 11 pm to 5 am instead of 1 am to 5 am, said a notification issued by the state home department.
  8. The Tamil Nadu government issued a new set of guidelines amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, PTI reported. The rules mandate that individuals with international travel history during the last 14 days, healthcare workers with symptoms of Covid-19 and those patients having severe acute respiratory infection should be tested. Localities in a city or a town where international travellers have tested positive for the Omicron strain, even a single case should be included as a “containment zone”.
  9. The United Kingdom on Friday announced a record number of coronavirus cases driven by the Omicron variant. Government data showed 1,22,186 new cases, up from 1,19,789 on Thursday and marking a third day of reporting infections above 1,00,000. National Health Service leaders raised concerns about a rise in the number of hospitalisations after 1,171 people were admitted across the country in a 24-hour period, The Guardian reported. “Daily hospital admissions with Covid have gone up by over 40% in the last week in England,” said Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the NHS Confederation. This, he added, was really worrying as hospitals are scrambling because of coronavirus cases among the staff.
  10. The United States will lift travel restrictions it imposed on eight southern African countries due to the spread of the new strain, the White House said, Reuters reported. The restrictions imposed last month affecting South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini and Malawi would be lifted by New Year’s Eve.