- India on Thursday reported its first two cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 from Karnataka.
- Follow Covid-appropriate behavior and avoid mass gatherings, says govt to limit spread of Omicron.
- Under the current situation, there is no need for lockdown, says Health Ministry.
India on Thursday reported its first two cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 from Karnataka. The Union Health Ministry while confirming the detection of two cases of Omicron variant in Bengaluru asked people not to panic but follow Covid-appropriate behaviour and get vaccinated without delay. It also said the scientific reasoning for booster vaccine doses is under examination and that priority is to complete the task of receiving both jabs of COVID vaccine.
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- Five contacts of the person who tested positive have also tested positive and their samples have been sent for genomic sequencing, the Karnataka government said. Lav Agarwal, the joint secretary in the Union Health Ministry, told a news conference in Delhi that both the patients had mild symptoms. Severe symptoms have not been noted, he added. The Karnataka state authorities identified the patients as a 66-year-old South African man, who has since left for Dubai, and a 46-year-old male doctor working at a government hospital in Bengaluru.
- Besides the cases detected in India, 373 cases of Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 have been detected in 29 nations so far, according to an official.
- "We need not panic about the Omicron detection but awareness is absolutely essential. Follow Covid-appropriate behavior and avoid mass gatherings," ICMR Director-General Dr. Balram Bhargava said, adding that increased COVID-19 vaccine uptake was the need of the hour. "Do not delay in getting fully vaccinated," he told the joint news conference in Delhi.
- As many as 25 international passengers who arrived in Maharashtra since November 1 and three of their close contacts have tested positive for coronavirus, the state health department said on Thursday. Their samples have been sent for genome sequencing to check if any of them has Omicron variant infection, it added.
- Participating in a discussion on the Covid pandemic in the Lok Sabha, Opposition members demanded that the government should inform the House about the roadmap for full vaccination and the booster dose. "Questions need to be answered over issues such as booster dose of Covid vaccine, whether the gap between Covishield doses could be reduced and status of vaccination for children," said Amol Ramsing Kolhe of the Nationalist Congress Party(NCP). Responding to a question at the press briefing, Agarwal said the scientific reasoning for boosters at what timing for which vaccine all that is under examination.
- About the possibility of clamping a lockdown given the detection of the Omicron variant in India, NITI Aayog member (health) Dr V K Paul said, "Under the current situation, there is no need for it." "Pandemic situation is under control. This is a new challenge which we will address and we have tools to tackle it. We will not panic or fear.
- About vaccine coverage, Agarwal said 84.3 percent of the adult population in India got the first dose while 49 percent got the second dose.
- On the detection of the Omicron variant in India, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the regional director of WHO South-East Asia in a statement said, "It was not unexpected given the interconnected world that we live in. This emphasizes the need for all countries to step up surveillance, be on alert, rapidly detect any importation and take measures to curtail further spread of the virus," she added.
- Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also held a meeting in Delhi with airport and port health officers as well as other authorities over screening and surveillance at all points of entry amid concerns over the 'Omicron' variant, official sources said. The health ministry has been advising states and Union territories to keep a strict vigil and undertake surveillance of international passengers coming to the country through various airports.
- Testing of samples of international travelers coming from ‘at risk’ countries on the first day and of specified category of passengers on the eighth day needs to be scrupulously done, the govt had stressed. International passengers from at-risk countries are being advised to wait at airports till the report of the RT-PCR test is available. List of countries from where travelers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing are those in Europe, including the United Kingdom, besides South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.