Expressing concern over the new Covid variant, ‘Omicron’, the government has planned to suspend flights with South Africa, said Health Minister Zahid Maleque.
“The (health) ministry is aware of the new variant and directives have already been given to take necessary steps to tackle it in Bangladesh and the authorities concerned of the health sector have been asked to remain alert,” he said.
The minister came up with the information in an audio message while going to Geneva on Saturday to participate in the ‘World Health Assembly Second Special Session’.
Terming the new variant as ‘aggressive’, Zahid urged all not to panic and maintain the health protocol strictly.
“The authorities concerned at our airports and land ports have been asked to strengthen screening while people entering the country,” he said.
Besides, the minister said, the deputy commissioners concerned have been asked to take steps to ensure the use of masks and abiding by health guidelines by people.
New Covid variant
South African scientists identified a new version of the coronavirus this week that they say is behind a recent spike in Covid-19 infections in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province.
It is not clear yet where the new variant first emerged, but scientists in South Africa earlier alerted the World Health Organization and it has now been seen in travellers to Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel, reports news agency AP.
In a statement on Friday, the WHO designated it as a “variant of concern,” naming it “Omicron” after a letter in the Greek alphabet.
After convening a group of experts to assess the data, the UN health agency said “preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of reinfection with this variant,” as compared to other variants.
“The number of cases of this variant appears to be increasing in almost all provinces in South Africa,” the WHO said.
Meanwhile, South Africa said imposing restrictions on travellers from the country because of a newly identified Covid-19 variant was unjustified.