A 66-year-old and 46-year-old male have tested positive for the Omicron variant in Karnataka, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Thursday making them the first confirmed infections of the new strain in India.
According to an official statement, the 66-year-old male travelled to India from South Africa but is currently not in the country. The other male aged 46 who tested positive is a local. The details shared by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike said both had very mild symptoms. The Omicron variant was identified by South African scientists and reported to the World Health Organization on November 26.
Since then, close to 30 countries have reported the new variant. All of them barring South Africa, Botswana and Portugal have shared that all those who tested positive have some travel history.
The BBMP shared that the 66-year-old male who has already left the country for Dubai, UAE, entered India with a negative RT-PCR report and was tested at Bangalore airport. His results came positive following which he was asked to isolate and his sample was sent for sequencing. The BBMP further added that in a second test on November 23 conducted at a private lab, showed negative reports which he used to check out of the hotel on and fly to Dubai.
The BBMP also shared that the second person who tested positive is a local from Karnataka but have not detailed whether he has any recent international travel history.
Dr. Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said that the Karnataka state government has managed to trace all the primary, secondary, and tertiary contacts of the two men who tested positive. He also added that the ministry is being vigilant in ensuring that this variant of concern does not spread rapidly in the country.
So far, ten travellers from the countries mandated to be at risk (Europe, UK, South Africa, Nigeria, China, Israel, Hong Kong, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, Singapore, Botswana, Brazil) have tested positive from the mandated RT-PCR tests conducted on over 7976 passengers travelling in 37 flights.
Dr. Sujeet also added that since November 26, the NCDC and the INSACOG, a consortium of labs conducting genomic sequencing have sequenced 883 positive samples. Barring these two cases, so far, all the others have tested positive for the Delta variant.
Along with India, the United States, UAE, Brazil, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Ireland, Ghana, and Nigeria also reported their first cases of the Omicron variant. This variant has additional mutations to the existing mutations seen in the Alpha, Beta, and Delta variants.
These 26-32 deletions of amino acids in the spike protein increase the SARS-CoV-2 virus' affinity to enter the human body. As it is a recent discovery, the transmissibility of the virus as well as its impact on vaccines is still to be studied.
(Editor's note: This story has been updated with the details of the patients received from the BBMP. The earlier version of the story stated that both the patients travelled from South Africa)
Updated On: 2021-12-02T19:46:02+05:30