Jharkhand health minister asks PM to stop international flights from Omicron-hit countries
Jharkhand health minister Banna Gupta on Sunday appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately stop international flights from countries where the new Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus has surfaced and prepare a roadmap to tackle the crisis in case the variant finds its way to India.
“A developing state like Jharkhand is well aware of how devastating the effects of a Covid-19 wave can be. The second wave taught us many lessons the hard way, and we cannot afford to be complacent about this new variant, which is said to have the strength of reducing vaccine efficiency,” said Gupta.
The Prime Minister, Gupta said, should also learn from his past mistakes and take necessary actions before it is too late. He urged Modi to build consensus between all the states and the Centre in a bid to stand united against this new variant of the coronavirus.
The Omicron variant, which first surfaced in South Africa, has already been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Britain and Israel, sparking global concern. A case was also reported in Australia on Sunday.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) director Dr Randeep Guleria said on Sunday that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus had at least 30 mutations, and it may bypass the immunity provided by vaccines in India.
Expressing concern over this new variant, the Jharkhand health minister admitted that the Delta variant of the coronavirus had wreaked havoc in the country, and this new variant may cause even more damage if necessary action wasn't taken at the earliest to stop its entry in the country.
“There should not be any place for politics in the health machinery. We should be more sensitive towards the kin of Covid victims and prioritise public health and safety,” said Gupta.
He said that Jharkhand has started working on ways to strengthen the screening process of passengers to the state. The state, he said, witnessed a drop in the vaccination coverage during the festive season, but vaccination figures were rising again. Jharkhand has witnessed a drop in Covid cases, but the state government has not let its guard down yet, he added.