3 in Pune district, back from African countries, test positive for Covid-19

Published on Dec 01, 2021 12:16 AM IST

Three persons from Pune district who have returned from high risk African countries which have reported Covid-19 positive cases with Omicron variant have tested positive for Covid-19

Three persons from Pune district who have returned from high risk African countries which have reported Covid-19 positive cases with Omicron variant have tested positive for Covid-19. (HT (PIC FOR REPRESENTATION))
Three persons from Pune district who have returned from high risk African countries which have reported Covid-19 positive cases with Omicron variant have tested positive for Covid-19. (HT (PIC FOR REPRESENTATION))
BySteffy Thevar

PUNE Three persons from Pune district who have returned from high risk countries which have reported Covid-19 positive cases with Omicron variant have tested positive for Covid-19. Their samples have now been sent for genome sequencing.

Of the three, one is from Pune city, who returned from Zambia on November 20, and two are from the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), who returned from Nigeria.

Public health department in their official statement on Tuesday said, “Currently, there are six passengers who arrived from South Africa or other high-risk countries in the state who have tested positive. Of those who have come from South Africa and other countries, one each has been found in Mumbai corporation, Kalyan-Dombivali corporation, Meera-Bhayandar corporation and Pune. This is in addition to two passengers who arrived from Nigeria who have been found in the Pimpri-Chinchwad corporation area. All their samples have been sent for genetic sequencing and their contact tracing is underway. All these passengers, although Covid-19 positive, are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic. Citizens should follow Covid-appropriate behaviour and inform the authorities if they have international travel history in the last month. Those who have not taken the Covid-19 vaccine, or have had only one dose should complete their vaccination at the earliest”.

Dr Pradeep Awte added: “ WHO has also classified the Omicron variant as a ‘variant of concern’. Experts have expressed possibilities that owing to the genetic modification in the virus, it may possess some specific characteristics. While the transmissibility of infection seems to have increased because of this new variant, there is still not enough clarity on whether or not it will cause a severe disease and whether it will evade the immunity. More information is expected in the next two weeks.

“Against this background, surveillance of international passengers has been started as per guidelines given by the Government of India. Passengers arriving from Europe and 11 other countries where the Omicron variant has been detected will be tested with RT-PCR and positive samples will be sent for whole genome sequencing. Additionally, those who are found RT-PCR negative will also be quarantined for seven days before testing again. If found positive this time, their samples too will be sent for genomic sequencing. RT-PCR tests will be done for a random 5% of the passengers arriving from countries other than the listed ones, and positive samples among them will be sent for genomic sequencing,” he added.

The Pune resident who returned from Zambia, an African country bordering Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, all high-risk countries with regards to the Omicron variant of the Sars-Cov-2 variant, has tested positive for Covid-19, officials said on Tuesday. The passenger returned to India on November 20 and all his high-risk contacts have tested negative for the infection. The person is currently asymptomatic and is isolating at home.

The patient’s sample has now been by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) sent for genome sequencing to the National Institute of Virology to ascertain of he is infected with new variant.

Dr Ashish Bharti, chief of the PMC health department said, “The patient along with the family returned to Pune on November 20, via Mumbai airport and then they took a cab and returned to Pune. The patient, a 60-year old man, felt discomfort and stomach pain following which he got himself tested at Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital and tested positive for the infection.”

The genome sequencing results will come in in a week’s time, said PMC health officials.

The person is almost nearing the completion of the 14-day isolation period as per current protocol.

Dr Bharti also added that the patient is currently asymptomatic. State surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awte also confirmed the case.

As of now, PMC is still awaiting a list of all the international travellers who have come to Pune from various countries and could now be part of the “at risk” countries.

As of now the civic body has got the names of 40 international travellers who arrived at Pune airport from various countries like Turkey, UK, Madrid and Dubai and is tracking them as per the revised guidelines issued by the ministry of health and family welfare, in light of this new variant.

Dr Bharti further said, “The Indian Council of Medical Research, in a video conference held on Tuesday has assured us that the current set of RTPCR kits and Rapid Antigen Test kits would be able to detect the Omicron variant.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) too confirmed in its technical brief on November 27 that most diagnostic tests can detect the Omicron variant.

As of November 29, countries included in the “at risk” list for Omicron are: South Africa, Botswana. Netherlands, Hong Kong, Belgium, Israel, Australia, England, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Austria and Canada.

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