State Health Minister Veena George asked those coming from non-high risk countries also not to visit public places or attend crowded functions for 14 days.

Omicron in Kerala detected in elderly couple from UAE, tally reaches 7Image for representation/PTI
news Coronavirus Saturday, December 18, 2021 - 09:43
Written by  PTI

Kerala on Friday, December 18, logged two fresh cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, taking the overall tally to seven, the state health department said. The new variant of the virus was detected in an elderly couple who arrived in Kochi from the UAE. The 68 year-old man and his 67-year-old wife had arrived by a flight from Sharjah on December 8, it said.

Since the UAE is not included in the list of high risk nations, the couple were asked to go into self-quarantine. When they were diagnosed with COVID-19, their samples were sent to the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology for genetic testing and both tested positive for Omicron.

With this, Omicron was detected in three people in the state who came from non-high risk countries and this has prompted State Health Minister Veena George to ask those coming from non-high risk countries also not to visit public places or attend crowded functions for 14 days for any reason.

Officials said there are six in the husband's primary contact list and one in the wife's primary contact list. They said there were 54 passengers on board the flight and added that those who had been in close contact with them will be under surveillance.

The state had detected its first Omicron case on December 12 in Ernakulam district when a person who had returned from the UK tested positive. Four more cases of the new variant were confirmed on December 15. 

Before the two new cases from Kerala came to light, as of Friday, December 17, the Union government said that as many as  101 positive cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus have been detected across 11 states and union territories so far. Citing the World Health Organisation (WHO), the government also said that the Omicron variant is spreading faster than the Delta variant of the coronavirus in South Africa, where Delta circulation was low. “It is likely that Omicron spread will outpace Delta variant where community transmission occurs,” the government said, advising people to avoid non-essential travel and mass gatherings.