India on Thursday reported its first two cases of the new Covid-19 variant Omicron in Karnataka, sparking concerns. State government authorities told CNN-News18 that the cases are not related to each other and both of them were fully vaccinated. The men are aged 66 years and 46 years.
While the 66-year-old man is a South African national and has travel history from South Africa — where Omicron was first detected — the other one has no travel history and is a healthcare worker from Bengaluru. Both of them were found to be positive with mild symptoms.
The 66-year-old man landed in Bengaluru on November 20 and tested positive after his sample was collected at the airport on arrival. He had travelled with a negative report from South Africa via Dubai. According to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) commissioner Gaurav Gupta, a UPHC doctor visited the hotel for physical triage and found him asymptomatic. He was advised to self-isolate at the hotel.
On November 22, his test samples were collected and sent for genomic sequencing through BBMP. The next day, on November 23, the patient took a self-investigation at a private lab and the report came negative, following which he left for Dubai on November 27.
BBMP said he had 24 primary contacts and 240 secondary contacts, and all of them have tested negative.
The second patient, the 46-year-old man, who is a resident of Bengaluru, developed symptoms of fever and body ache. His sample was collected at a hospital on November 22. BBMP commissioner Gupta said the man tested positive for Covid-19 and noting a low CT value, his samples were sent for genome sequencing. He was under home isolation between November 22-24, following which he was admitted to a hospital for three days and then discharged on November 27. He had 13 primary contacts, of which three tested positive, and 205 secondary contacts, of which 2 were found to be infected.
Gupta said that samples of all the positive patients have been sent for genome sequencing.
In the wake of the detection of the first two Omicron cases, CM Basavraj Bommai said the government would issue fresh guidelines and keep a strict vigil on travellers from South Africa and European nations. “We are ready for it. The state is careful and on alert regarding tracking and testing,” the CM said at News18 India Chaupal.
The Centre, meanwhile, said that all the Omicron-related cases were found to have mild symptoms so far. “In all such cases in the country and across the world so far, no severe symptom has been noted. WHO has said that its emerging evidence is being studied,” said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry, at a press briefing on Thursday.
The ministry also said that the landscape of circulating variants in India showed a dominance of Delta (B.1.617.2) over other variants since April 2021.
(With inputs from Runjhun Sharma, Revathi Rajeevan and Deepa Balakrishnan)