First detected earlier this month in southern Africa, Omicron was declared to be a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) last week. This recently discovered Covid variant has so far been detected in 12+ countries across the globe and is spreading further. The WHO has stated that studies into the various aspects of the new variant could take weeks to reach any conclusion.
“The widely-used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants. Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests,” the World Health Organization said in an update. It further stated that “There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants”. Patients have been reported with mild symptoms of the virus that have been found even in people that have been fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile back home, the Union Health Ministry has issued revised travel guidelines amidst rising concerns around the rapid spread of the Omicron Covid variant. Starting December 1, 2021, international passengers must submit 14 days’ travel history and upload negative Covid test results, conducted within 72 hours of the journey. A declaration with respect to the authenticity of the Covid test report will also be required, manipulated reports will make the passenger liable for criminal prosecution. Travellers from countries deemed “at-risk” will also undergo a mandatory 7-day home quarantine if they test negative for the virus.
Travelers from 12+ at-risk countries will be subjected to testing and extra surveillance. They will be required to undergo Covid test post-arrival and wait for results at the airport before leaving or taking any connecting flights. If the test is negative, they’ll follow home quarantine for 7 days, get a retest on the 8th day and if negative again, further self-monitor for the next 7 days.
These “at-risk” countries, as updated on November 26, are countries in Europe including The United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel.