29 Nov , 2021 By : monika singh
India Inc is carefully evaluating the impact of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron and has advised caution in travel and Covid-appropriate behaviour as countries issue restrictions in the wake of its rapid spread. Increasing the pace of vaccination across states will keep Indian economy on track, industry officials said.
The next two-four weeks will be crucial in terms of how the new variant impacts health, said Naresh Trehan, chairman of industry body CII's Healthcare Council. "It's clearly a wait-and-watch and we have to be extremely cautious to travel to/from the restricted countries," Trehan, the chairman, Medanta, The MediCity, said.
India will also need to ensure medical preparedness to deal with any emergencies, corporates have said.
Sunil Kataria, CEO, India and Saarc, Godrej Consumer, said complacency has set in around vaccinations in India and there is a need to ramp it up from the current 40% to 90%.
"We all are following Covid-appropriate behaviour and advised employees to travel abroad only if necessary and follow respective country's travel advisories. I think vaccinations and preparedness will ensure that India continues the growth trajectory with confidence," Kataria said.
While the economy's key indicators showing healthy growth, commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said there were concerns around "what is happening in Europe, and also particularly in South Africa and the resultant fresh lockdowns in parts of Europe." Goyal's travel to Geneva for the WTO ministerial council meeting has been cancelled due to travel restrictions triggered by the latest variant.
"Just as the global economy seems to be getting back on track to some degree of normalcy, Omicron's discovery is very concerning," said Harsh Goenka, chairman, RPG Enterprises. "It is a warning that we cannot let our guard down. In a perpetually connected world, safety can be achieved only through a high degree of vaccinations. Until then, we have to learn to adapt and function within this uncertainty. At this juncture, business enterprises remain cautiously optimistic that this variant can be dealt with," he added.
Sangita Reddy, joint MD, Apollo Hospitals, said that while it was too early to understand the implications of Omicron, "we should not let our guards down and need to stay vigilant."
Top conglomerates such as Reliance Industries, M&M, Godrej and Tata group have urged employees to follow travel advisories to countries where the new strain has spread.
"We are all watching trends for the next two weeks and hoping that this variant, though contagious, should be milder. Consistency in vaccinations is key to protecting lives and economy," said a senior Tata group executive.
Naushad Forbes, co-chairman of Forbes Marshall and past president of CII, said it was unclear yet whether the variant would spread like the Delta one earlier, or whether it could be contained.
There will be restrictions on travel to certain countries and that is an understandable 'gut' reaction," he said.