Omicron, first discovered in southern Africa, represents a fresh challenge to global efforts to battle the pandemic,
India announced its first two cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant on Thursday (Dec 2), after battling a record jump in infections and deaths between April and June in the country, where the Delta variant is the dominant strain.
Two men in the southern Indian state of Karnataka have tested positive for the Omicron coronavirus variant after returning from overseas.
Top health ministry official Luv Agarwal said two men in southern Karnataka state, aged 66 and 46, had tested positive for the variant.
India has yet to impose new blanket international travel bans but on Monday the health ministry ordered all inbound travellers from “countries at-risk” to undergo mandatory post-arrival COVID-19 testing, along with the random testing of other international arrivals.
More than 200,000 people in India died in a devastating Covid-19 wave between April and June that overwhelmed hospitals and crematoriums.
It struck after one of the world’s biggest religious gatherings, the Kumbh Mela, which attracted around 25 million Hindu pilgrims.
The country has been recording fewer than 10,000 new cases daily and has vaccinated nearly 80% of the 940 million eligible adults with at least one dose so far.
The country has since administered more than 1.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses but only around a third of the population are fully vaccinated, according to government data.