Amid Omicron scare, 3 Covid positive foreigners in Vrindavan leave India without informing authorities: Report

Published on Dec 01, 2021 09:05 PM IST

As many as four foreign devotees from Austria, Spain, Lithuania and Switzerland were recently found to be infected with Covid-19 in the pilgrim town of Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh.

Omicron Covid-19 variant, which was first discovered in South Africa, has so far spread to more than a dozen nations, including the UK, Israel and Canada. (For representation purpose)(HT PHOTO)
Omicron Covid-19 variant, which was first discovered in South Africa, has so far spread to more than a dozen nations, including the UK, Israel and Canada. (For representation purpose)(HT PHOTO)
Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

As many as three foreign devotees, who were found to be infected with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Uttar Pradesh’s Vrindavan, have left India without informing the authorities, news agency PTI reported citing officials.

Four non-Indians were recently found to be Covid-19 positive in the pilgrim town of Vrindavan, which draws multiple foreigners all year long.

On Wednesday, Vrindavan coronavirus control room in-charge Bhudev Prasad Singh told PTI that the number of the infected foreign devotees in the city has now shot up to 10. Chief medical officer Dr Rachna Gupta confirmed the same, and added that of the 10 infected foreigners, three have returned to their home country.

The CMO said that police have been informed about the three foreigners, who left Vrindavan without informing the authorities and thereby defying Covid-19 protocols.

On Monday, Hindustan Times reported that an Austrian woman aged 41 became the fourth foreign national to test positive for Covid-19 in Vrindavan, a health official said. She was residing in the same ashram where three other foreigners – also Europeans, were found to be infected with the virus.

Notably, the three other infected Europeans hailed from Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland. All the four samples were sent to labs in Lucknow for genome sequencing to find out if they are omicron variant of Covid-19.

The latest PTI report, however, doesn’t specify if the three foreign nationals who returned to their homeland are the aforementioned Europeans.

Omicron variant, which was first discovered in South Africa, has so far spread to more than a dozen nations, including the UK, Japan, Israel and Canada. The strain has been classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Scientists have noted that Omicron can undergo multiple mutations – about 50, in the spike protein, which determines how fast the virus can spread among people.

India on Wednesday deferred the resumption of international flights from December 15 onwards amid Omicron scare, and also laid down revised guidelines for all international travellers.

India is among more than 50 countries that have tightened its security as well as Covid-19 norms amid the emergency of Omicron Covid-19 variant – all in the hope of combatting this new strain after the Delta variant. Several countries, including the US, UK, and Japan, have also imposed travel bans from affected nations of southern Africa.

However, the WHO on Tuesday discouraged blanket travel bans, and said that the move will not prevent the “international spread” of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, but will “place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” AFP reported.

The United Nations (UN) health agency recommended that people who are sick or at risk of developing severe Covid-19 and dying of it, “including people 60 years of age or older or those with co-morbidities,” should postpone their travel plans.

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