After two people in Karnataka were found to have been infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, five contacts of one of the patients have tested positive and their samples have been sent for further testing, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner Gaurav Gupta told the media on Thursday, December 2. Both the men, one aged 46 and the other 66, were vaccinated with both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, the BBMP chief said.
The 46-year-old who was found positive with the Omicron variant works in a hospital in Bengaluru. The BBMP chief confirmed that the patient does not have any travel history. 218 contacts have been identified and tested, out of which three primary contacts and two secondary contacts have been found positive. These samples have been sent for genome sequencing.
The samples of the 46-year-old man were taken on November 22 after he tested positive. The BBMP decided to conduct a genome sequencing of his samples, as his CT value was found to be low. (CT value, or cycle threshold value, is indicative of the viral load in a patient who has been infected with SARS-CoV-2. A low CT value means that it took fewer cycles of the test to detect the virus, and so it means there is a high amount of virus present.)
Over the next two days, the patient remained in home isolation, and on November 25, he was admitted to hospital. After three days of treatment, he was discharged on November 27. 13 primary contacts and 205 secondary contacts were identified and out of these, three primary contacts and two secondary contacts tested positive between November 22 and 25. All these contacts have been isolated, the BBMP has said. After genome sequencing was conducted, it was confirmed on Thursday, December 2, that it was the Omicron variant.
As for the second case in Karnataka, the BBMP Commissioner said that the 66-year-old who has been infected with the Omicron variant is a South African national who landed in Bengaluru on November 20. He had a negative report and was screened and tested at the Bengaluru airport. On November 20, he checked into a hotel, where he tested positive for coronavirus. He was asymptomatic and was advised to isolate at the hotel. On November 22, his samples were sent for genome sequencing. The patient took a ‘self-investigation test’ on November 23, the BBMP said, and that the report came back negative. 24 primary contacts and 240 secondary contacts were traced, and all of them tested negative. According to the BBMP, the man checked out on November 27, took a cab to the Bengaluru airport and left for Dubai. He was vaccinated with both doses, the BBMP said. On December 2, it was confirmed that he had the Omicron variant.
The two positive patients did not come in contact with each other, the BBMP chief said, adding that it is not immediately clear how the 46-year-old was infected with Omicron. Further investigation is underway.
The BBMP chief also said that though some South African health experts have said that the Omicron variant may be more transmissible but less severe, he added that not much is known about it and that the public must exercise caution.
Earlier, the Union Health Ministry had announced that the first two cases of Omicron have been detected in India, adding that there is no need to panic and that people should ensure that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
"There is no need to panic about Omicron, but awareness is absolutely essential. It is important to get fully vaccinated, people should get both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. People should follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. Mass gatherings should be avoided," ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargav told the media on Thursday.