Centre asks states and UTs to ramp up COVID-19 testing amid Omicron scare
New Delhi/IBNS: The central government has asked 36 states and union territories to ramp up COVID-19 testing in the backdrop of the emergence of a new coronavirus variant, Omicron, in the world, media reports said.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday met with officials from the states and union territories as Omicron, as per the World Health Organisation (WHO), poses "very high" risk.
The government, as directed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is reviewing the plans to ease restrictions on international travel.
The new COVID-19 variant was first detected in southern Africa, which has led to a surge in infections in South Africa.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the recently-detected B.1.1.529 strain of COVID-19 as a variant of concern and named it as Omicron.
"Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology... the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern (VOC), named Omicron," the UN health agency said in a statement.
This puts Omicron into the most-troubling category of COVID-19 variants besides the globally-dominant Delta.
The variant has also been detected in the United Kingdom, Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel and Belgium.