Two people have tested positive for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in Karnataka, Joint Secretary of the Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal, told the media on Thursday, December 2. Those who contracted the variant are a 46-year-old male and a 66-year-old male. The two patients have mild symptoms and all contacts of both patients have been traced and are being tested further. Further details are awaited.
There is no need to panic over the detection of the Omicron variant, the Health Ministry said. "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 said.
Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar on Monday, November 29, had indicated that the sample from one of the two South African nationals who arrived in Bengaluru recently is â€˜different from the Delta variantâ€™. Sudhakar had told reporters, "There is a man whose name I should not disclose. His report is a bit different. It appears different from the delta variant. We will discuss with the ICMR officials and let people know by the evening what it is."
Earlier on Thursday, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya held a meeting with airport and port health officers as well as other authorities over screening and surveillance at all points of entries amid concerns over the new coronavirus variant. The Health Ministry has been advising states and Union territories to keep a strict vigil and undertake surveillance of international passengers coming into the country through various airports. Testing of samples of international travellers coming from â€˜at risk' countries on the first day and of specified category of passengers on the eighth day needs to be done scrupulously, it had stressed.
International passengers from at-risk countries are being advised to wait at airports till the RT-PCR test report is available. States and UTs have been asked to send all positive samples for genome sequencing to INSACOG labs (mapped with states) promptly and states have been asked to undertake contact tracing of positive individuals and follow-up for 14 days.
The new potentially more contagious B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on November 24, and has been designated as a "Variant of Concern" by the global body, which named it Omicron. A variant of concern is the WHO's top category of worrying coronavirus variants.
List of countries from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing, are those in Europe, including the United Kingdom, besides South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.
With PTI inputs