Omicron in India: Two infected in Maharashtra, Gujarat; total now 4

The number of infections of the Omicron variant in India grew to four after authorities in Maharashtra and Gujarat confirmed one case each.
Dozens of more people and hundreds of close contacts of the known cases are under surveillance or being sought for testing and isolation across the country.(PTI photo)
Dozens of more people and hundreds of close contacts of the known cases are under surveillance or being sought for testing and isolation across the country.(PTI photo)
Updated on Dec 05, 2021 01:57 AM IST
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BySwapnil Rawal and Darshan Desai

The number of infections of the Omicron variant in India grew to four after authorities in Maharashtra and Gujarat confirmed one case each, both in people who had returned from one of the 11 south African nations last month.

Dozens of more people and hundreds of close contacts of the known cases are under surveillance or being sought for testing and isolation across the country.

The first announcement pertained to a 72-year-old man in Jamnagar, who returned from Zimbabwe on November 28 and tested positive for Covid-19 after developing symptoms.

“The man’s samples were sent to the laboratory, which found him positive for the Omicron variant on Friday. He has been kept in isolation since his admission to the hospital after testing positive. All his contacts who were traced and screened have tested negative,” said Dr S Chatterjee, nodal officer for Covid-19 at state-run Guru Gobindsingh Hospital. “We will test all his contacts once again in view of the man’s latest test report,” he added.

Chief minister Bhupendra Patel held an emergency meeting in light of the development and local authorities said they had established a micro containment zone where the 72-year-old man was living.

Officials, who asked not to be named, said at least 87 people, who may have been in contact with him, are being sought out for tests.

The official added that 30 people who arrived from Dubai, and a woman who reached Vadodara from London, tested positive for Covid-19. Their samples have been sent for genome sequencing to ascertain if they have been infected with the Omicron variant.

In Maharashtra, officials said a 33-year-old man who returned from South Africa to Kalyan-Dombivli near Mumbai tested positive for Omicron variant.

State health minister Rajesh Tope on Saturday said that the third wave of Covid-19 infections could be of Omicron variant in Maharashtra if precautions are not taken. But, he added that the new strain is mild, doesn’t cause severe disease that requires mass hospitalisation.

To be sure, neither of those characteristics are still confirmed and scientists are carrying out studies to establish whether the variant is more transmissible, resistant or virulent.

The man who arrived in Mumbai from Cape Town via Dubai and Delhi on November 24 had not taken any Covid-19 vaccine so far, according to a statement from the state health department and has only been mildly symptomatic, officials said.

The department further said that 12 high-risk contacts and 23 low-risk contacts were traced and found negative for Covid-19. Additionally, 25 co-passengers of the Delhi-Mumbai flight also tested negative.

“This young passenger is a resident of Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Corporation and has not taken any Covid-19 vaccine. On November 24, the passenger got a mild fever. However, no other symptoms were observed. The mildly symptomatic patient is being treated at the Covid Care Centre in Kalyan-Dombivali,” a statement from the state health department said.

Genome sequencing reports of a 60-year-old male, who arrived from Zambia, has not tested positive for the new variant. Instead, a sub-lineage of Delta variant has been detected in the sample that was tested at the National Institute of Virology in Pune, the state health department said.

Earlier, Tope told the media that the panic over Omicron is understandable due to people’s experience in the first and second wave of Covid-19 infections. Tope said the third wave of Covid-19 could be of Omicron, as the variant is said to be very transmissible. If we don’t take precautions the third wave could be of Omicron, even though it is mild [compared to the Delta variant],” Tope said in Jalna on Saturday.

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Sunday, January 23, 2022