Maharashtra's Omicron scare: 6 passengers test coronavirus positive, Indian state releases new guidelines

WION Web Team
Maharashtra, India Published: Dec 01, 2021, 12:07 PM(IST)

Pedestrians walk past a wall mural depicting health workers to spread awareness about the Covid-19 coronavirus in Mumbai on November 30, 2021. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Maharashtra has imposed a seven-day quarantine on travellers from 'at-risk' countries arriving in the state due to concerns over the Omicron variant of coronavirus

Maharashtra's state health department reported on Tuesday that six passengers arriving from South Africa and other high-risk countries tested positive for Coronavirus and their samples are being sent for genome sequencing. This happened amid concerns over Omicron, the new variant of SARS-CoV2.

Of those who have come from South Africa and other countries, three have been discovered in Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivali, Mira-Bhayandar, and Pune, while a fourth was found in Mira-Bhayandar. Two other passengers from Nigeria were located in Pimpri-Chinchwad, a corporation located near Pune.

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"Currently, there are six passengers who arrived from South Africa or other high-risk countries in the state who have tested positive. The samples of all of them have been sent for genetic sequencing and their contact tracing exercise is underway. All these passengers, although tested COVID-19 positive, are either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic," the health department said.

As of November 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) dubbed the coronavirus detected in South Africa and some other countries as Omicron.

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'Variant of Concern' classification has also been given to the Omicron variant, according to experts, it is possible that the virus takes on some distinctive characteristics due to its genetic modification.

Although this new variant appears to have increased the transmissibility of infection, it is still unclear whether or not it will cause severe disease and whether it will evade immunity. Additional information should become available in the next few weeks.

Maharashtra has imposed a seven-day quarantine on travellers from 'at-risk' countries arriving in the state due to concerns over the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Watch | India issues travel advisory for international passengers over Omicron variant

The State Disaster Management Authority on Tuesday night issued the guidelines, an official said.
The list of at-risk countries is announced by the Union government.

The countries listed as 'at-risk' are the European countries, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Israel.

An RT-PCR test will also be administered to passengers from these countries on the second, fourth, and seventh days following their arrival, according to new guidelines from the authority.

Also read | Will Covishield work against Omicron? It will be clear in 2-3 weeks, says Serum Institute’s Poonawalla

Furthermore, those passengers who do not test positive will also be home-quarantined for seven days before they can be tested again.

"If they are found positive this time around, their samples too will be sent for genomic sequencing," the health bulletin said.

In accordance with the Centre's guidelines, RT-PCR tests will be performed on five per cent of passengers arriving from countries that are not listed, and any positive samples found will be sent for genomic sequencing.

(With inputs from agencies)

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