Omicron variant detected in India, two positive cases in Karnataka
Two people from Karnataka tested positive for the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the Union health ministry informed on Thursday. These are the first cases of the fast-spreading cases to be reported in India.
"Two cases of Omicron variant have been reported in the country so far. Both cases are from Karnataka," Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, Union health ministry, said at a press briefing today, adding that the patients have not reported any severe symptoms so far.
"All primary contacts and secondary contacts of both the cases have been traced and are being tested," Agarwal further said.
The Omicron variant was first detected in southern Africa and since then has spread to 29 countries, the health ministry official informed today (India is the 30th country). The Indian government has already implemented strict measures for international travellers to check the spread of the new strain. Those measures have come into effect from Wednesday.
As part of the new guidelines, the Centre has made a negative RT-PCR test mandatory for travellers arriving from countries identified as 'at-risk' (where omicron cases have been reported). The central government also directed states to ramp up testing.
Niti Aayog member Dr VK Paul, who was also present at the briefing, was asked about the resumption of international flights and administering of booster shots. “The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is being carefully examined, we will take decisions on the basis of it. It's an ongoing discussion within our technical and scientific circles,” he said.
India was set to restart scheduled commercial international flights on December 15, but on Wednesday scrapped that plan and said a resumption date would be announced in due course.
After battling a record jump in infections and deaths in April and May, coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases have come down substantially in India, where the Delta variant is the dominant strain.
On Thursday, the country recorded 9,765 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, which took its total tally to 34.61 million. Only the United States has reported more Covid-19 cases.
The active caseload remained below the 1 lakh mark and now stands at 99,763.