Minister for Health and Population Birodh Khatiwada has said that the government will start to provide booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine from first week of January 2022, if the World Health Organization (WHO) gives permission.

Speaking at a media briefing, Minister Khatiwada said that the government was prepared to provide the booster dose if the WHO allowed it to do so. Minister Khatiwada informed that the booster dose would be administered on a priority basis and in first phase, it would be given to frontliners, security personnel and elderly citizens.

The WHO has recommended providing booster dose after vaccinating 50 per cent of the target population. As the new variant, Omicron, has now spread across the world, the government has started making preparations to stop the third wave, said Minister Khatiwada.

He added that the main concern of the government was to control the spread of COVID-19, and that the active participation in the vaccination campaign was very essential. All the beneficiaries must reach the vaccination center to receive the jab.

For this to happen, all stakeholders, including students, teachers and social activists, should help and in-spire them to do so. Speaking on the occasion, Minister Khatiwada informed that the government was increasing vigilance of the people crossing borders from India.

The government has started testing and keeping people coming from across the border in quarantine and strict measures are taken for people entering Nepal by airplanes. Now, flights from ten countries have been banned in Nepal.

International travelers are required to stay in quarantine and should show their vaccination card, he added. All the people crossing the borders through land are also required to show their vaccination card, he added.

Similarly, the government is conducting gene sequencing to find the new variant among the suspicious people, said Minister Khatiwada.

Meanwhile, Nepal has detected one more case of Omicron, a new variant of the coronavirus. The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) Wednesday confirmed the variant in a 98-year-old male through gene sequencing.

The samples of the people have been collected through contract tracing of the infected male, who is now in home isolation, said Dr. Sangita Mishra, spokesperson for MoHP. Earlier, two people were found infected with the variant, both of whom are now free from the virus.