Two Omicron cases detected in Karnataka as India joins list of countries with new variant

By Online Desk

The Union Health Ministry on Thursday confirmed two cases of Omicron variant — both in Karnataka.

“Two cases of Omicron detected in Karnataka so far through genome sequencing effort of INSACOG consortium of 37 laboratories established by the Ministry of Health. We need not panic, but awareness is absolutely essential. COVID apt behaviour is required,” Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR, said.

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“All their contacts have been identified and they are under monitoring. The protocol is being followed,” Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry, said.

The first indications that India might have Omicron cases came on Monday when Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said the sample of one of the two South African nationals who had come to Bengaluru recently was “different from the Delta variant.”

“There is a man who travelled from South Africa and his report is a bit different. It appears different from the delta variant,” the minister had said.

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The duo were isolated at hotels in Bengaluru’s BBMP limits and their samples were tested and the Bengaluru Rural Deputy Commissioner K Srinivas even announced that their samples had the ‘Delta variant’, not Omicron. 

However, the samples were rechecked by the government laboratories under the INSACOG and samples were sent to ICMR for reconfirmation. 

It has now been confirmed that it was the Omicron variant. However, more details are awaited about their travel history and where the duo are now isolated.

So far, around 29 countries have reported 373 cases of the Omicron variant.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’. According to the Union Health Minister, the COVID-19 situation is under control in India at present but the country is not free from this disease and Covid-appropriate behaviour should be followed.

The house-door vaccination drive is still on and about 70-80 lakh doses are being administered on a daily basis, he said, adding 124 crore doses of Covid vaccine has been administered so far in the country.