Days after WHO confirmed the detection of a new variant of the coronavirus in South Africa, health authorities have announced the detection of Omicron variant in India. Here’s what we know so far:
India’s 4th Omicron Variant Case Reported In Mumbai
A 33-year-old person from Kalyan-Dombivli who recently returned from South Africa has tested positive for Omicron variant of COVID19 according to the Maharashtra Health Department. This is the first case of the variant in Maharashtra and the fourth in the country. Authorities also said that the 33-yr-old passenger arrived in Mumbai on November 24 from Capetown, South Africa through Dubai & Delhi. He hasn’t taken any vaccine and 12 of his high-risk contacts & 23 of the low-risk contacts have been traced and all have been tested negative for COVID19.Additionally, 25 of the co-passengers from the Delhi-Mumbai flight have also been tested negative. “More contacts are currently being traced,” Maharashtra Health Department added.
Third case of Omicron Variant In Gujarat
According to reports, 76-year-old man form Jamnagar in Gujarat, who recently returned from Zimbabwe, has been found infected with the Omicron variant, becoming the third case of the new variant in India. The state health authorities revealed that the man had tested positive for COVID on Thursday, December 2, and was confirmed to be carrying the Omicron strain after his samples were sent for genomic sequencing. Authorities further said that the area of residence was turned into a micro containment zone and that his contacts were being traced and tested.
1st Two Cases Of Omicron Variant Detected In Karnataka
The health ministry earlier announced that it detected 2 cases of Omicron variant in Karnataka. While one of the two cases is that of a 46-year-old fully vaccinated doctor with no prior history of travel, the other is 66-year-old South African who recently landed with a COVID negative certificate.
The health ministry also announced that contact tracing in both cases has been concluded and further testing is on. Authorities added that mild symptoms have been observed in both cases. The confirmation came after genome sequencing of the samples that tested positive for Coronavirus. The BBMP (Bruhad-Bengaluru Mahanagarapalika) said that three contacts of the 46-year-old have tested positive.
Union Govt’s Restrictions For International Travellers
As countries all over the world restricted travel from ‘at risk’ countries that have reported Omicron cases, India chose to implement added measures on international travel. International travellers are required to declare their travel history for the past 14 days and provide a COVID negative certificate. The test must be conducted within 72 hours prior to travel. Passengers from at-risk countries are being tested on arrival testing and will have to wait till the test results return. If negative, the passengers will then have to quarantine for 2 weeks. If positive, they will be isolated and treated. These measures have been in place from December and were announced before the health ministry confirmed the Omicron variant in India.
What Are The Countries ‘At-Risk’ For India?
The countries at-risk (updated as on November 26, 2021) from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India include the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, Israel, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, and Malawi, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands and Scotland.
Maharashtra’s Quarantine Norms For Passengers
Maharashtra that had announced institutional quarantine for all passengers from ‘At-risk’ countries has now revised that rule and said that passengers from ‘Ultra-risk’ countries- South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe- “shall be deboarded on priority…. (and) sent to mandatory 7 days’ institutional quarantine”. The rules are also applicable to passengers who visited any of these countries in the last 15 days.
The passengers from at-risk countries will now undergo RT-PCR tests, and won’t have to undergo institutional quarantine. They must undergo RT-PCR tests on arrival and can leave only after the test results are received. Those who tested negative must undergo compulsory 2 weeks home quarantine.
Maharashtra has also mandated domestic passengers to furnish proof of double vaccination or negative report of an RT-PCR test conducted within 72 hours of boarding.
Travel Guidelines In Karnataka, Uttarakhand, J&K
Karnataka and Uttarakhand also joined Maharashtra in issuing its own guidelines for those traveling to the state. Karnataka has banned unvaccinated people from accessing public spaces including parks, malls and theatres till January 22 next year. All cultural activities, fests and functions in all educational institutions are to be postponed till January 15, 2022. Calling for the strict implementation of COVID protocols, the state also mandated that parents of children below l8 years of age, who are going to schools or colleges, should be compulsorily vaccinated with two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. In addition, compulsory testing of health workers, senior citizens above 65 years of age, and persons with comorbidities will be undertaken by the state government. Strict surveillance shall continue at border posts set up by the districts adjoining Kerala and Maharashtra.
Uttarakhand meanwhile has announced that people arriving in the state will have to undergo mandatory tests. If positive or symptomatic, they will be quarantined for 14 days. Random testing will also be conducted on the state’s borders. In Jammu and Kashmir too, RT-PCR test of all international passengers has been made mandatory, followed by a seven-day home quarantine for those who test negative.
How Many Countries Have Reported The Omicron variant So Far?
Other than India, 29 other countries have reported the Omicron variant. Some of them are South Africa, Nigeria, Botswana, Israel, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Brazil, US, Canada, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Norway, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.
Variant Detected In Netherlands A Week Before South Africa?
Meanwhile, the Dutch health authorities have announced that they detected the Omicron variant of the virus in Netherlands in two cases, from November 19 and 23 in Netherlands, raising the questions on the origin of the new variant.
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