As concerns regarding the new COVID-19 'Omicron' abound, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is also the Guardian Minister for Pune on Saturday said that new restrictions may soon have to be imposed in the district.
Pawar also said that passengers arriving in Pune by flights will not have to spend too much time at the airport for verification of COVID-19 norms due to relaxation provided recently.
He said airline operators check the vaccination or RT-PCR status of all passengers at the time of selling tickets as well as boarding, so the norm of waiting at the airport here for a few hours after arrival has been relaxed.
The state will follow the norms laid down by the Central government for international passengers, he added.
Addressing a press conference, Pawar said cinema halls and auditoriums can operate at 100 per cent capacity but patrons will have to wear masks and follow pandemic protocols strictly, while open-air programmes will also be allowed with adequate precaution.
Meanwhile, in Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has called a meeting of senior officials at 5:30 pm today with regard to the variant.
The meeting is called by BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal.
According to BMC, the members of the COVID task force, dean of COVID hospitals, ward officers, health officers will attend the meeting.
The measures and restrictions to deal with the new variants will be discussed in the meeting.
In the meeting, they will also discuss testing and contact tracing of passengers coming from other countries.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also chaired a meeting on the situation relating to COVID-19 and vaccination with top officials.
India has also added several countries to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing for infection.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently added Hong Kong and Israel to the list of countries from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing considering the detection of the new COVID variant 'Omicron' in South Africa.
After the variant was detected, the epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant, the WHO informed in a statement.
"In recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021," the statement said.
This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa.
(With agency inputs)