The Maharashtra State Health Department said that until Decemeber 2 morning, 861 international passengers were tested with RT-PCR, and three of them were found positive. Samples of all three patients have been sent for genomic sequencing. Additionally, field surveillance of all international passengers who have arrived since November 1, is underway.

“A total of 28 samples from both airport and field surveillance have been sent for genomic sequencing. Out of these, 12 are sent to NIV Pune and 16 to Kasturba Hospital laboratory. Out of these 28, 25 are international travellers and 3 are their close contacts. Genetic changes/mutation in viruses is a natural phenomenon and people should not panic” the department said.

The department has appealed to the citizens that they should follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, inform the authorities if they have had an international travel history in the last month and those who have not taken Covid-19 vaccine or have had only one dose should complete their vaccination at the earliest.

The statement issued by the department added that the 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 severe disease and whether it will evade the immunity. More information is expected in the next two weeks’ time or so” the department added.