The Union Health Ministry on Thursday reviewed the Covid-19 situation in the country, in which it said that two cases of the new, highly contagious B.1.1.529 strain, named as "Omicron" variant has been detected in Karnataka.
The two cases are 66-year-old male and 46-year-old male. The passengers had come from South Africa on November 11 and November 20.
The government also added that contact tracing is being done and we need not 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.
He also added that all Omicron-related cases are found to have mild symptoms so far. "In all such cases in the country and across the world so far, no severe symptom has been noted. World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that its emerging evidence is being studied," he said.
"It is too early to assess whether Omicron causes more severe infection or less compared to variants, including Delta," the official told the press conference quoting the World Health Organisation which has designated the new variant as a 'variant of concern'.
The government also added that around 29 countries have reported 373 cases of Omicron Variant so far.
Agarwal, in a press briefing said that surge in cases being noted across the world on an overall basis, Europe reported 70% of the cases in the world in last one week. In the week ending 28 November, around 2.75 Lakh new cases and over 31,000 deaths reported in European region, he added.
In comparison to this, Southeast Asian region that includes India and 11 other countries, reported only 1.2 lakh cases in last one week - only 3.1% of the cases of the world. A decrease in cases is being reported in the Southeast Asian region. In the context of India, Agarwal also informed that Kerala and Maharashtra are the two states that have more than 10,000 actives cases - 55% of the cases of the country are reported in these two states.
On the Covid-19 vaccination front, the government observed that there is an increase in second dose of vaccination. Several initiatives were taken to increase number of vaccination across country, he added. 84.3 per cent of adult population in India got 1st dose of Covid vaccine, 49 per cent got the second dose.
"Increased COVID-19 vaccine uptake need of the hour, do not delay in getting fully vaccinated," stressed VK Paul, Member-Health, NITI Aayog.
WHO's Director General Tedros Adhanom on Wednesday sounded alarm saying that at least 23 countries from five of six WHO regions have now reported cases of Omicron. Speaking at a press conference, Dr Tedros also added that WHO expects the numbers to grow.
The UN agency had last week declared the recently-discovered B.1.1.529 strain of Covid-19, first detected in southern Africa, to be a variant of concern and renamed it Omicron.
The classification puts Omicron into the most-troubling category of Covid-19 variants, along with the globally-dominant Delta, plus its weaker rivals Alpha, Beta and Gamma.
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