Omicron scare: Centre extends Covid curbs till 31 December

States told to step up testing; Centre issues new rules for international travellers.

Taking cognizance of the emergence of highly mutant Covid-19 variant B.1.1529 or Omicron cases in a few countries of Africa, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday extended validity of Covid containment measures till 31 December to curb further spread of the deadly disease, directing state governments to take pro-active containment measures, even as the Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting on Tuesday with officials from States and Union Territories to review Covid-19 public health response measures and preparedness.

The Central government also issued new rules for international travellers which will be effective from Tuesday midnight. International airports in the national capital and other parts of the country have made preparations for implementation of the new norms. Officials on Tuesday said the Delhi international Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday held a meeting with the health department officials to take stock of preparedness in the national capital amid the raising concerns of the new Covid variant, Omicron. Holding a press conference, Kejriwal said, “We have prepared 30,000 oxygen beds in which 10,000 are ICU beds. 6,800 ICU beds are under construction which will be completed till February 2022.” He further informed that his government will install 100 oxygen beds in all municipal wards on a short notice of two weeks.

Kejriwal added, “There are 32 types of medicines that are used during Corona (treatment). A buffer stock of 2 months is being ordered so that there is no shortage of medicines.” Speaking on the oxygen plants, Kejriwal added, “To store the storage capacity of oxygen, we have made 442 metric tonnes storage in the national capital.”

Kejriwal added, “All the oxygen tanks in the national capital have been ordered to install the telemetric devices. This will give the exact data of oxygen in the tanks. So that, the refilling can be done on time. This will help in the oxygen management.”

For the spare capacity of oxygen cylinders. We have imported 6,000 cylinders from China. We have D-type cylinders which will help in installing the oxygen beds. We have brought 15 oxygen tankers, so far,” added Delhi CM. Regarding the vaccination, the Chief Minister said that “93 per cent people have got the first dose vaccine in Delhi, while 57 per cent people have also taken the second dose.” The Chief Minister expressed hope that the Omicron variant will not come to India. Earlier, the Delhi government on Monday, in a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), chaired by Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, decided RT-PCR tests will be conducted on all passengers arriving from six high-risk countries.