India?s first Omicron cases: One is South African, second a local doctor with no travel history

Five contacts of doctor also test positive and their samples have been sent for genomic sequencing

India?s first Omicron cases: One is South African, second a local doctor with no travel history

Students apply finishing touches to paintings made to create an awareness against the new coronavirus Omicron variant, in Mumbai. Reuters

Bengaluru, December 2

Out of two cases of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus that have been detected in the state, one is a South African national who has left the country after testing negative, while the other is a local person, a Doctor with no travel history, the Karnataka government said on Thursday.

Five contacts of the Doctor have also tested positive and their samples have been sent for genomic sequencing.

According to officials, both the persons who have tested positive for Omicron in Bengaluru city were vaccinated with two doses of Covid vaccine.

“We were waiting for the report for the last two-three days. Today the Centre has officially said the samples we had sent for genomic sequencing are confirmed for the new variant. So two cases of Omicron in the country have been detected in Karnataka. This proves that our aggressive testing has helped in faster identification,” Health Minister K Sudhakar said.

Speaking to reporters here, he said there is no need to worry, and appealed to people to compulsorily wear masks, get two doses of vaccines at the earliest, and avoid attending big events especially indoors, unnecessarily.

“How it (Omicron) spreads, we can’t say as of now, but there is no need to worry as all the six cases identified so far don’t have any major health issues. We have seen the Delta variant, it had intensity, more issues like breathing, such things have not been noticed so far.

Symptoms here are mild,” he added.

Earlier, sharing details of the Omicron variant cases, BBMP (city corporation) Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta said, the first is a 66-year-old male, who is a South African national.

“He had 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 he subsequently underwent test separately (self-investigation) at another laboratory (private lab on November 23), during which his reports came negative, the Commissioner said he then left the country for Dubai on November 27.

All his 24 primary contacts and 240 secondary contacts have tested negative, he said. “But they are still kept under watch.” The second person is a 46-year-old male practicing medical doctor working at a government hospital. On developing tiredness, weakness and fever he got tested 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, Gupta said. “He was initially kept under home isolation and was subsequently shifted to hospital. He is a local person without any travel history.”

His 13 primary contacts and 205 secondary contacts have been tested, he said. “Three primary and two secondary contacts have tested positive.

They have been kept under isolation and samples have been sent for sequencing.”

The Health Minister said the doctor and his five contacts have been isolated and admitted to a government hospital in Bengaluru and are being monitored. “There are no major issues, they have mild symptoms, which is a matter of comfort.”

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, who is in Delhi today, is likely to chair a high level meeting on Friday to decide on the next course of action and precautionary measures that need to be taken.

“The Chief Minister will chair a meeting with senior Ministers, officials and experts, the government is seized of the matter and is on top of the measures that need to be taken, no need to worry or have unnecessary confusions or speculations,” the Minister said.

Testing and tracing have to be increased, he said. “I have spoken to the Chief Minister, who is in Delhi, in this regard. There is a need to intensify screening at airports.”

Responding to a question, the BBMP commissioner said that samples of all international travellers who have tested positive, and positive cases with low Ct value are being sent for genome sequencing and their results would be known 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...Please note that the second person who tested positive has no travel history, so there may be chances of more people having the infection. There is a need to be vigilant.” PTI

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