The Health Ministry on Thursday urged citizens to maintain calm soon after two Covid -19 Omicron variant was detected in Bangalore – in men aged 46 and 66.
The 46-year-old man is a health worker from Bengaluru who developed symptoms (fever and body ache) on November 21, following which his samples were sent for genome sequencing. So far, five members of the health worker patient have tested positive for Covid-19. His vaccination status so far is not known. The 66-year-old-patient was fully vaccinated and had travelled to South Africa.
During the press briefing, the Union Health Ministry assured of increased surveillance and called for all the states to prioritize Covid precautions and ensure the following of safety protocols at all times.
The government has also increased screening of international travellers – specifically from countries where the Omicron variant is spreading fast and unabated. For those coming from at-risk countries, apart from the mandatory 72-hour test before arrival, they need to take an additional RT-PCR test on arrival. If the test result is positive, the person’s sample will be sent to related labs for genomic sequencing.
Apart from India, Omicron has spread to 29 other countries, taking the total count of Omicron detected countries to 30. As of today, at least 375 cases have been reported in these countries. First detected in South Africa, the Omicron has been spreading fast in the country with the country today recording 11,535 new Covid cases, out of which 183 cases have been confirmed on the Omicron variant.
Love Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health, said, “Omicron has the ability to spread much more rapidly than the Delta version. So far, 373 cases of Omicron have been reported in 29 countries around the world.”
Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandavia is scheduled to hold meetings with Ministers of States and Union Territories. Coronavirus testing and surveillance will be done more stringently at the airport for this purpose.
WHAT WHO SAID?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) in its statement stated that Omicron was ‘Variant of Concern’ and not ‘panic’.
“Countries should continue to implement the effective public health measures to reduce COVID-19 circulation overall, using risk analysis and science-based approach. They should increase some public health and medical capacities to manage an increase in cases,” a WHO official stated in a statement.
“In addition, it is vitally important that inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines are urgently addressed to ensure that vulnerable groups everywhere, including health workers and older persons, receive their first and second doses, alongside equitable access to treatment and diagnostics,” the statement added.