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Omicron detected in five states, India's tally now 23: Top developmentsNEW DELHI: India on Monday reported two more cases of Omicron Covid-19 variant, taking the total number of cases in the country to 23.

The new variant of Covid-19 was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on November 25. On November 26, the WHO named the new Covid-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as ‘Omicron’. The WHO has classified Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’.

Here are the top developments:

With 2 more Omicron cases, Maharasthra’s tally now 10

Two more cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus have been reported in Maharashtra’s Mumbai on Monday, taking the total tally of the new Covid-19 variant in Maharashtra to 10.

A 37-year-old man who arrived in Mumbai from South Africa and his 36-year-old female friend who landed in the city from the United States have both tested positive for Omicron.

As per the Maharashtra government, both the patients displayed no symptoms and were vaccinated with Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine.

Delhi airport installs 120 Rapid PCR testing machines for international passengers

As the number of passengers landing in India from ‘at-risk’ countries is increasing amid the scare of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) has installed 120 Rapid PCR testing machines apart from setting up 20 dedicated counters for passengers who have pre-booked for Covid-19 tests, at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, CEO, DIAL, said, “Delhi Airport has been making continuous enhancements in infrastructure and processes to manage the new screening norms for passengers arriving from at-risk countries. The number of passengers pre-booking their tests on arrival has been going up every day.”

NTAGI discusses administering ‘additional’ vaccine dose, inoculation of kids

The issues of administering ‘additional’ dose of Covid vaccine to immunocompromised individuals and inoculation of children were deliberated upon in a meeting of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization (NTAGI) on Monday, official sources said.

However, no consensus was learnt to have been reached by the members and no final recommendation has been made on these issue as of now, the source said.

Sources also said the issue of booster dose was not on the agenda of the meeting as studies need to be conducted to ascertain its need and value.

An additional dose of a vaccine is different from a booster dose.

Next virus could be more lethal, warns Oxford professor

Future pandemics could be more lethal to humankind than the current Covid crisis, the scientist behind the creation of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, administered in India as Covishield to protect against Covid-19, warned on Monday.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the Jenner Institute of the University of Oxford also warned that vaccines could be less effective against the new Omicron variant, but noted that reduced protection against infection and mild disease would not necessarily mean reduced protection against severe illness and death.

“This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods. The truth is the next one could be worse. It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both,” Prof. Gilbert said.

Scindia directs Delhi airport’s operator DIAL to do better crowd management

Aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday directed Delhi airport operator DIAL to implement better crowd management strategies after flyers complained of chaos and crowding at its terminal following the implementation of new travel guidelines, senior government officials said.

Amid concerns over the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the Centre had issued a revised guideline for international travellers which came into effect on December 1.

The minister on Monday called a meeting with officials of the Airports Authority of India, Bureau of Immigration and GMR group-led Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), they noted.