New Delhi: Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Thursday said that the new COVID-19 variant 'Omicron' is a setback as countries across the world need to be safe.
"It has been our effort over last six months to slowly increase flights, internationally as well...Omicron is a setback as all countries across the world need to be safe. Our government has categorised 11 countries as 'at risk'," Scindia said in Lok Sabha today. As the situation with respect to the new COVID variant continues to evolve, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday said that it will notify its decision in due course on the date of resumption of commercial international passengers airline services to and from India.
The circular by India's aviation watchdog DGCA on the resumption of scheduled international flights comes as India was due to resume flights from December 15, nearly 20 months after these flights were suspended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
A new variant of COVID-19 was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on November 25. As per the WHO, the first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9 this year.
On November 26, the WHO named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as 'Omicron'. The WHO has classified Omicron as a 'variant of concern'.
Dozens of countries have imposed travel restrictions on the southern African nations since the mutation was discovered.
The new Omicron coronavirus variant has been confirmed in 23 countries and their number is expected to rise, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said.
India has also added several countries to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in the country, including post-arrival testing for infection.
No cases of new COVID-19 variant 'Omicron' have been reported in the country so far.