After a teenager who returned from Paris and a 41-year-old man who travelled to Barcelona, Spain, were found positive for Covid-19 in Mumbai, the number of people who would be checked for the new Omicron variant in the city has risen to 14.
Amid growing concerns for the heavily mutated new variant, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) has introduced a very unique and strict home quarantine monitoring mechanism for international passengers arriving from ‘at-risk’ countries. The quarantine is said to be as effective as institutional quarantine.
As per the new guidelines, Mumbai International Airport Ltd. will send a list of travellers coming from South Africa or ‘at-risk’ countries to the government every day, following which the Disaster Management team will then track all of these passengers.
The civic body stated that their objective is to prevent the possible spread of the Omicron variant in Mumbai. The list will also include the detailed address and contact numbers of these travellers.
“The BMC will get the list at 10 am daily, after which its staff will contact the passengers to inform them to remain home quarantined for the next seven days. Adherence to the home quarantine order is mandatory and the passengers will be shifted to government-run institutions if they are found violatingit," the official notification said. “An RT-PCR test will be conducted after seven days and necessary steps will be taken accordingly," the order added.
“We are alert about people returning from ‘at risk’ countries and have prepared an action plan for it. The airport authorities have been directed to inform our disaster control room on arrivals from these countries. 10 ambulances will be kept on stand by in each ward," said Mumbai Mayor, Kishori Pednekar.
Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, the number of ‘suspects’ has gone up to 30, according to the state government’s update based on figures available at 7 am on Friday. The daily Omicron update said that so far, only three people had tested positive at the airport, while the remaining 27 had been picked up as part of the surveillance (among travellers who returned between November 1 and 30).
“Of the 30 positive samples, 16 will undergo whole genome sequencing in BMC’s Kasturba Hospital in Chinchpokli and 14 at National Institute of Virology in Pune,” state surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate told the Times of India (TOI).
In Mumbai, 14 Omicron suspects have been shifted to allotted hospitals and their samples have been sent for whole-genome sequencing.
“Contact tracing of these travellers is still going on,” BMC executive health officer Dr Mangala Gomare told TOI. As per the Centre’s directive, almost 200 contacts- primary, secondary and tertiary, each of these suspects will be tested. A total of 3,136 passengers have come to the city from high-risk countries as of Friday. And so far, BMC has tested 2,149 of these people and results of around 150 are available. The samples of each of these suspects are also being subjected to an RT-PCR screening test for the S gene, in BMC’s KEM Hospital, Parel.
Taking cognizance of the rising number of cases, the Centre has already imposed various restrictions for stringent surveillance at the airports and tightened testing measures.