The government has urged citizens not to travel abroad unless absolute emergency in light of the growing risk of the ‘Omicron’ variant.

Issuing a press statement on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) urged all Nepalis to take precaution against COVID-19 and said that the ‘Omicron’ variant had not yet been detected in Nepal.

Dr Sameer Adhikari, assistant spokesperson for MoHP, said that the monitoring and testing of the new variant had been expanded adding that the new variant was highly contagious and could infect people of any age. He urged all citizens to stay alert.

The Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) was first detected in African countries and is spreading rapidly across South Africa and Asia lately. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a ‘universal variant of concern’.

Meanwhile, Nepal on Wednesday received additional 972,000 doses of Covishield, the India-made AstraZeneca type vaccine, through the COVAX facility. The consignment arrived as a part of the 6 million doses of the vaccine committed by COVAX.

Earlier on Monday, Nepal received 725,550 doses of Covishield as the first consignment.

Nepal so far has received 24,861,440 doses of Covid-19 vaccines—Vero Cell, AstraZeneca, Janssen and Pfizer-BioNTech.

Similarly, 8,437,860 people (27.8 percent of the total 30 million population) have been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday since the country launched its vaccination campaign against COVID-19 on January 27 this year.