Six passengers who arrived in Maharashtra from SA and other high-risk nations test coronavirus positive: Health department


MUMBAI: Six passengers, who arrived in Maharashtra from South Africa and other high-risk countries, have tested positive for coronavirus and their samples have been sent for genome sequencing, the state health department said on Tuesday amid the scare over Omicron, the new variant of SARS-CoV2.

Of those who have come from South Africa and other countries, one each has been found in the municipal corporation limits of Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivali, Mira-Bhayandar and Pune.

Two passengers who arrived from Nigeria have been found in the Pimpri-Chinchwad corporation area neighbouring Pune.

“Currently, there are six passengers who arrived from South Africa or other high-risk countries in the state who have tested positive. The samples of all of them have been sent for genetic sequencing and their contact tracing exercise is underway. All these passengers, although tested COVID-19 positive, are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic,” the health department said.

On November 26, the World Health Organisation (WHO) named the coronavirus variant detected in South Africa and some other countries as Omicron. The WHO has also classified the Omicron variant as a ‘Variant of Concern’.

Experts have expressed possibilities that owing to the genetic modification in the virus, it may possess some specific characteristics.

While the transmissibility of infection seems to have increased because of this new variant, there is still not enough clarity on whether or not it will cause severe disease and whether it will evade immunity.

More information is expected in the next two weeks’ time or so, it said. Additionally, those passengers who are found RT-PCR negative will also be quarantined for seven days before testing again, it said.

“If they are found positive this time around, their samples too will be sent for genomic sequencing,” the health bulletin said.

According to the Centre’s guidelines, RT-PCR test will be done randomly for 5 per cent of the passengers arriving from countries other than the listed ones, and positive samples found will be sent for genomic sequencing.