Omicron in India: Two fully-vaccinated men test positive for new COVID-19 variant; Karnataka's Bommai calls for meet 1 pm

India went into high panic on Thursday after the Centre announced that the first two cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 had been repo...

India went into high panic on Thursday after the Centre announced that the first two cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 had been reported from Karnataka — in a South African national and a Bengaluru doctor with no travel history.

We examine who these patients are, where do they come from and what lies next for India.

Omicron in India

According to authorities, the first patient is a 66-year-old South African man, who travelled to Bengaluru via Dubai.
Authorities report that the veteran, who was fully vaccinated, travelled from South Africa on 20 November with a negative COVID-19 report. On his arrival, he checked into a hotel and his test reports came out positive and doctors said he was asymptomatic.

On 22 November, his samples were sent for genomic sequencing. The next day, on 23 November, the patient took a self-investigation at a private lab and the report came negative, following which he left for Dubai on 27 November.

According to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, the 66-year-old had 24 primary contacts and 240 secondary contacts, and all of them have tested negative.

The second patient has been identified as a 46-year-old man, who is a resident of Bengaluru.

The 46-year-old is a health worker and he first showed symptoms of fever and body ache on 21 November and underwent a RT-PCR test at a hospital on 22 November. He was declared to be COVID-19 positive on the same day.

According to authorities, the man, who had no travel history, stayed under home isolation, but on 25 November, he was admitted to hospital for three day and later was discharged on 27 November.

He had 13 primary contacts, of which three tested positive, and 205 secondary contacts, of which two were found to be infected.

Following the emergence of the two case, Health Ministry's Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said: "We need not panic about Omicron detection but awareness is absolutely essential. Follow COVID-appropriate behaviour and avoid gatherings."

Dr VK Paul, chief of the Centre's COVID-19 task force, said, "There will be no drastic curbs any time soon. The situation is well under control."

Bommai calls for meet

Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai will be holding a high-level meeting in Bengaluru today at 1 pm to decide the next course of action, following the detection of the two Omicron variant cases in the state.

News agency PTI reported that the chief minister said he had already discussed the matter with Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.

Stating that the Karnataka government is already monitoring and tracking international travellers, Bommai said, "Our duty is to see that not only these two persons, but track and trace such strains wherever they are found and their contacts."

Bommai further said the Union health minister told him that the Centre is watching the current developments.

A report by NDTV said that at today's meet Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar will meet with deans and medical superintendents of government medical colleges today to work out the way ahead. Also, the chief minister is mulling over the possibility of administering booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to health workers.

Other suspected cases

On Friday morning, Mumbai's civic body reported that nine international travellers, including one from South Africa, who arrived at Mumbai International Airport between 10 November and 2 December have tested positive for COVID-19. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation added that their samples have been sent for genome sequencing.

Other than that, ANI news agency reported that Tamil Nadu's health minister Ma Subramanian had announced that a passenger from Singapore at the Tiruchirappalli International Airport was found COVID-19 positive and has been admitted to a private hospital and that the passenger's samples have been sent for genome sequencing.

The health minister added that another passenger from the UK in Chennai was found COVID-19 positive and was admitted to a special ward of the King Institute of Preventive Medicine, Chennai.

On Thursday, six people who flew into Delhi from 'at-risk' countries, including the UK and the Netherlands, were admitted to the Lok Nayak Hospital after four of them tested positive for COVID-19 and two "showed symptoms".

Authorities said that their samples have been sent to the National Centre for Disease Control for genome sequencing to ascertain if they have the new variant, Omicron.

With inputs from agencies

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India World News: Omicron in India: Two fully-vaccinated men test positive for new COVID-19 variant; Karnataka's Bommai calls for meet 1 pm
Omicron in India: Two fully-vaccinated men test positive for new COVID-19 variant; Karnataka's Bommai calls for meet 1 pm
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