India recorded 8,318 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the country's total caseload since the pandemic began to 3,45,63,749, according to health ministry data updated on Saturday morning.
These new cases are 21 per cent lower than Friday's spike of 10,549 fresh cases.
In the meantime, 465 new fatalities were also recorded, taking the total Covid deaths in India to 4,67,933.
With 10,967 recoveries, the total recoveries have surged up to 3,39,88,797. The recovery rate is currently at 98.34 per cent, the highest since March 2020, whereas the active cases stand at 1,07,019 after falling by 3,114 cases since Friday.
In the same time frame, 73,58,017 people were administered Covid-19 vaccines that has pushed the overall vaccination count to 1,21,06,58,262.
With the news of a new Covid-19 variant -- Omicron, being detected in southern Africa, scientists and health experts in India have said that new waves of infection are anticipated and unless we act quickly and efficiently, the country will possibly see repeat waves.
The variant has also been declared as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In a communication to all states and Union Territories, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said India's National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has informed the government that "multiple cases of Covid-19 variant B.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (3 cases), South Africa (6 cases) and Hong Kong (1 case)".
"This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel," Bhushan said.
"lt is therefore imperative that all international travellers travelling from and transiting through these countries, (they are part of the "at risk" Country Category of international travellers coming to lndia) are subjected to rigorous screening and testing", the communication said.
"The contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per MoHFW guidelines."