Two Omicron cases detected in Karnataka, one has left country

Second infected a doc with no travel history | Loopholes in surveillance

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 2

This is a worrying sign for the health surveillance system of the country. Of the first two cases of Covid-19 Omicron variant reported today, both in Karnataka, one has left India and the other was discharged from hospital in three days.

Passengers from Singapore arrive at IGI Airport in New Delhi. PTI

The Bengaluru’s municipal corporation admitted in a statement today that the 66- year-old South African national who arrived in India on November 20 with a negative report and later tested positive when screened at Karnataka International Airport left for Dubai on November 27.

Before leaving, he got a private lab report that showed his status as “negative”, even after the government screening showed him “positive”.

The Bengaluru MC said that as the foreigner exhibited no symptoms after testing positive at the airport, he was advised self-isolation at a local hotel. “On November 22, his samples were taken for genome sequencing. The patient went in for self-investigation at a private lab on November 23 and the report was negative. There were 24 primary and 240 secondary contacts, all tested negative when screened. The person checked out of the hotel on November 27 midnight and took a cab to the airport. He left for Dubai,” the MC said hours after the Union Health Ministry stated that positive persons were being tracked.

About the second Omicron-positive person, a 46-year-old doctor with no travel history, the Bengaluru MC said he developed fever and body ache on November 21, underwent RT-PCR test on November 22 and was found positive.

He was at home from November 22 to 24, got hospitalised on November 25 and got discharged on November 27. “Three primary and two secondary contacts of this person were found positive. All are in isolation,” the MC said, revealing loopholes in the system and the fact that both patients continue to be out of institutional quarantine.

Although the Health Ministry’s new travel guidelines for foreign nationals from at-risk nations (South Africa is among them) came into force from December 1, Omicron was declared a Variant of Concern by the WHO on November 26. The Health Ministry, meanwhile, said there was no cause for panic. “Covid-appropriate behaviour, use of masks, hand hygiene, shunning mass gatherings will help break the chain of transmission of Omicron. Increased vaccine uptake is the need of the hour. Both doses must be ensured for everyone,” ICMR chief Balram Bhargava said today.

Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal cited a US study that shows the new Variant of Concern could possibly be 500 per cent more infectious.

Don’t panic, says govt

Health Ministry advises stringent Covid-appropriate behaviour, masking, distancing, ventilation, hand hygiene and vaccination

Maharashtra amends norms

In changed rules, Maharashtra has made 7-day institutional quarantine must for fliers only from S Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe

125-cr dose milestone

  • India has so far covered 84.3% of adults (79.16 cr) with one dose and 49% (45.92 cr) with both doses
  • A total of 125 cr doses were given till Thursday, but low coverage still a challenge

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