Here are the latest updates on the new coronavirus variant:

  1. The Mumbai Police on Friday banned people from visiting beaches, open grounds, gardens, parks or other public places in the city from 5 pm to 5 am till January 15 in view of rising coronavirus cases in the city and the spread of the Omicron variant, ANI reported. Those who violate the rules will be booked under Section 188 (disobeying an order by a public servant) of the Indian Penal Code, and provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act and National Disaster Management Act, an order said.
  2. Genome sequencing by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has found that 141 of 375 Covid-19 samples randomly collected from Mumbai residents between December 21 and 22 had an Omicron infection. The new variant accounts for 37.6% of the sequenced samples, as first reported in None of the infected people had any travel history, an official said.
  3. New Year’s Eve today marks the second anniversary of China alerting the World Health Organization about cases of “viral pneumonia” in Wuhan city. Currently, infections have hit record highs in the United States, Europe and Australia driven by the new variant of the virus.
  4. The Bengaluru City traffic police have decided to close all major roads, including MG Road, Church Street, Brigade Road, Indiranagar, Koramangala, starting from 6 pm on New Year’s Eve, The Indian Express reported. Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant also issued a new order prohibiting large gatherings of five or more people at public places from 6 pm on Friday till 6 am on Saturday.
  5. The Serum Institute Of India, which produces the Covishield vaccine, has applied to India’s drug regulator and the Union health ministry for complete approval of its shot, the company’s Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla said. “The government of India now has enough data for full market authorisation, and therefore Serum Institute of India has applied to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation and Union health ministry for this permission,” he said in a tweet.
  6. After Bihar recorded its first Omicron case, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked people to be alert, ANI reported. “We will hold a meeting today evening on the rising number of Covid-19 cases,” he said.
  7. Wolfgang Preiser, the virologist who first detected Omicron, has expressed “cautious optimism” about the decline in infections that has been reported in South Africa. “Maybe Omicron is a bit less virulent than the previous strains,” he said in an interview with Deutsche Welle. “But we are still seeing patients dying from it. It’s not a question of a common cold virus yet, it may be moving in that direction and that would be good news.”
  8. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that 90% of people hospitalised with Covid-19 have not opted for vaccine boosters in the United Kingdom, Bloomberg reported. “I want to speak directly to all those who have yet to get fully vaccinated,” he said. “The people who think the disease can’t hurt them look at the people going into hospital now, that could be you.”
  9. Only 4.9% of the patients who contracted the Omicron variant of coronavirus in South Africa’s Gauteng province had to be hospitalised for treatment. The number is significantly lower than the cases that led to hospitalisation in the region due to the Beta (18.9%) and Delta (13.7%) variants of the virus, findings of a study released by South African researchers on Wednesday has showed.
  10. South Africa on Thursday lifted overnight curfew restrictions as officials said the country may have passed the peak of its fourth wave of infections. A statement said that the Omicron variant, while highly transmissible, had led to lower hospitalisation rates than previous waves.