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The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) is continuously monitoring the situation in four cities - Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi, and Pune.

The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), which confirmed the first two cases of the Omicron variant in Bengaluru on Thursday, is continuously monitoring the situation in four cities - Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi, and Pune. The NCBS is a part of a consortium of national laboratories performing genomic surveillance across four city clusters. The consortium was established four months ago with support from The Rockefeller Foundation's Pandemic Prevention Institute, and is led by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad.

Dr Rakesh Mishra at the CCMB said on Friday that the consortium is continuously monitoring the situation in all the four cities and has upscaled its efforts to sequence as many samples as possible Apart from the CCMB and the NCBS, the consortium includes CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology - IGIB in New Delhi and the Pune Knowledge Cluster, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, and CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory in Pune.

covid virus The first case of the Omicron variant was detected in South Africa and reported to the World Health Organization on November 24. | Unsplash

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As the Omicron variant threat looms, Google is reconsidering its plans to ask full-time employees to return to offices by January 10.

As the Omicron variant threat looms, Google is reconsidering its plans to ask full-time employees to return to offices by January 10. According to an email from Google VP Chris Rackow, seen by CNBC, Google will not be requiring its employees to return to offices on January 10 as expected after all. The company has changed its return to work plans several times as the pandemic evolved.

In August, when the delta variant was a top concern, Google had announced plans for hybrid return-to-work till January 10, 2022. Rackow said in the email that full-time employees will wait until the new year to assess when US offices can safely return to a "stable, long-term working environment. "None of the US locations will adopt the hybrid working mandate on January 10 as planned," he added. Rackow said that Google will allow specific locations to decide their timelines for returning their respective local workforces to the office.

Apple is reportedly asking employees to return to offices starting February 1 as part of a hybrid work pilot who will be able to work remotely for four weeks a year. After the first US case of the Omicron Covid-19 variant was reported in California, the federal government was set to announce a bunch of measures to help counter the virus, including campaigns to increase vaccinations and booster shots, additional testing requirements for travellers entering the country from abroad and plans to make rapid at-home coronavirus testing free for more people. International travellers coming to the US will have to test within a day of departure, regardless of vaccination status, rather than the 72 hours currently required for vaccinated travellers, under new protocols early next week. The new testing rules will apply both to US citizens and foreign nationals entering the country. (IANS/ MBI)


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