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Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting with top officials on Saturday and ordered to review plans to ease international travel. This comes a day after the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new strain of the novel coronavirus Omicron (also called B.1.1.529) as a "variant of concern."

Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister P K Mishra, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, and NITI Aayog member (health) Dr V K Paul were among the attendees at the meeting.

The new COVID-19 variant 'Omicron' was first discovered in South Africa and has since been found in Botswana, Belgium, Israel, and other countries.

The meeting with top government officials lasted for over two hours. Here are the highlights of the meeting.

  • The officials briefed Prime Minister about the new covid variant and its characteristics. The impacts of Omicron on India were also discussed.

  • In the light of variant spread, PM talked about the need to be proactive.

  • "The PM emphasised the importance of closely monitoring all international arrivals and testing them according to guidelines, with a particular focus on countries identified as 'at risk,'" the PMO said in a statement.

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  • People need to be more cautious and need to take proper precautions like masking and social distancing: PM Modi

  • PM asked officials to review plans for easing international travel restrictions in light of emerging new evidence.

  • Officials have been directed to work alongside state governments to ensure that proper awareness is maintained at the state and district levels."

  • According to the PMO statement, "Mr Modi directed that intensive containment and active surveillance be continued in clusters reporting higher cases and that technical support be provided to states currently reporting higher cases."

  • There is a need to increase the second dose coverage and states need to be sensitised on the need to ensure that all those who have received the first dose are given the second dose timely: PM Modi

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