The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare announced on Thursday that two cases of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus have been detected in India so far. The two cases are of men aged 66-years-old and 46-years-old, explained the Health Ministry.
"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-19 apt behaviour is required," said Balram Bhargava, Director Genral, ICMR.
Government sources have told India Today that the two cases of the Omicron variant detected in Karnataka today are not related to each other. While, the 66-year-old man has a travel history to South Africa, the 46-year-old man has no such travel history and is a health care worker.
Later, Karnataka's Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) said that one of the two patients, who is 66 years of age, had returned to India from South Africa via Dubai and was fully vaccinated.
BBMP added that three primary contacts and two secondary contacts of the 46-year-old male tested positive between 22nd and 25th November. All have been isolated. Their samples have been sent for genome sequencing, results are awaited.
The ministry has stated that contact tracing is being done and there is no need to panic. "All primary, secondary contacts of both Omicron cases detected in Karnataka have been traced and are being tested," the ministry added.
"All their contacts have been identified and they are under monitoring. The protocol is being followed," said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry, at a press briefing held on Thursday.
Agarwal also explained that all Omicron cases detected so far have demonstrated mild symptoms. "In all such cases in the country and across the world so far, no severe symptom has been noted. World Health Organization (WHO) has said that its emerging evidence is being studied," added Agarwal.
The Joint Secretary further conveyed that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is being carefully examined. The ministry will take decisions based on the examination. "It's an ongoing discussion within our technical and scientific circles," said VK Paul, Member-Health, NITI Aayog regarding the ban on international flights, booster dose and pediatric vaccination. "Increased COVID-19 vaccine uptake is the need of the hour, do not delay in getting fully vaccinated," he added.
The Health Ministry also stated that so far 373 cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been detected in around 29 countries.
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