News

Two confirmed Covid-variant Omicron cases in Karnataka; no travel curbs

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Dec 02, 2021
Balram Bhargava (left), Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research, and Dr VK Paul, Member-Health, NITI-Aayog, addressing a press conference, in New Delhi, on Thursday, December 2, 2021.

Balram Bhargava (left), Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research, and Dr VK Paul, Member-Health, NITI-Aayog, addressing a press conference, in New Delhi, on Thursday, December 2, 2021.

Coronavirus and DNA, virus mutation. New variant and strain of SARS CoV 2. Microscopic view. 3D rendering

Coronavirus and DNA, virus mutation. New variant and strain of SARS CoV 2. Microscopic view. 3D rendering

Five contacts test positive; contact tracing, genome sequencing stepped up

Omicron variant of Covid-19 reached India’s shores on Thursday with two confirmed cases. Five contacts of one of the cases also tested positive. India is the 30th country to report the new strain.

The Health Ministry said that both cases were reported in Karnataka. “They are males with no severe symptoms,” said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, without disclosing their identity.

Sources said one is a 66-year-old foreigner who had travelled to South Africa, and the other a 46-year-old healthcare worker based in Bengaluru.

The Health Ministry said the new variant is not severe. “Severe symptoms have not been noted so far in any of the cases reported worldwide,” said Lav Agarwal.

To a question specifically on the possibility of a lockdown because of Omicron, VK Paul, Member-Health, NITI Aayog, said: “There is no need to impose a lockdown. We have all the tools to fight the new variant.”

But he did stress on the need to observe Covid-appropriate behaviour and protocol — wearing masks and getting vaccinated. Globally, 373 cases have been detected in 29 countries so far, said the Health Ministry. Nine nations reported Omicron on December 1.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said: “I don’t want to speculate on how the world looks at it. There are many countries where cases have been found in exactly the same circumstances (as in India)... we haven’t imposed any travel or flight restrictions.”

Three-tier tracking

The Centre maintained that rigorous contact-tracing is being done in each case.

“We are tracing three kinds of contacts — primary, secondary and tertiary. We have traced the remotest contacts of these two cases. This comes under the domain of the State governments and State Surveillance Officers are co-operating with us,” said Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control.

Simultaneously, genome sequencing is being stepped up. “Since the new variant has been identified, INSACOG tested 6,400 samples in November. Since the new travel guidelines came into effect, 883 samples have been sequenced. Cumulatively, the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) has done genome sequencing of 1,21,000 samples,” said Singh.

Vaccination effect

Experts said existing vaccines should provide protection against Omicron, too. ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava said that a whole-killed virion-based virus, which is what India’s indigenous Covaxin is, may have a broad spectrum effect against the new variant.

“This is a scientific understanding that the whole killed virion-based vaccine may have a wider antigenic presentation and broad spectrum effect on the newly emerging variants. This is the scientific understanding as of now. Till we are able to cultivate, culture and test the virus, it is premature to comment,” said Bhargava.

 

PTI adds:

South African national

Sharing details of the Omicron variant cases, Gupta said, the first is a 66-year-old male, who is a South African national.

"He had come come here (Bengaluru) on November 20, his samples were collected at the airport and subsequently he tested positive. His samples were sent for genome sequencing the reports of which have come today confirming he was infected by Omicron," he said.

Further noting that the person was isolated in a hotel, and was subsequently tested separately at another laboratory, during which his reports came negative, the Commissioner said, he left the country for Dubai on November 27, as per his pre-decided schedule.

All his 24 primary contacts and 240 secondary contacts have tested negative, he said, adding that "but they are still kept under watch." Regarding the second person, a 46-year-old male, Gupta said, his samples were collected on November 22, following which he tested positive.

As his sample had low cycle threshold (Ct) value it was sent to NCBS lab, and the report has come today as positive, he said. "He was initially kept under home isolation and was subsequently shifted to hospital. He is a local person without any travel history. He is stable and is recovering there are no concerns, he is under watch." The second case, who is said to be a Doctor, had got RT-PCR test done after he developed body ache and other symptoms.

His 13 primary contacts and 205 secondary contacts have been tested, Gupta said. "Three primary and two secondary contacts have tested positive, they have been kept under isolations and samples have been sent for sequencing." Not willing to divulge details about the second case, in response to a question, he said, "We cannot say he is hospital staff, he is from Bengaluru." The commissioner also said that that samples of all international travellers who have tested positive, and positive cases with low Ct value are being sent for genome sequencing and are obtaining their results within about a week's time.

City's Bowring Hospital has been identified for treating Omicron cases, he said. "Very less is known about this virus, according to South African doctors it is easily transmissible, but may be milder."

Published on December 02, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

COMMENTS
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like

Recommended for you