12 fresh Omicron cases take national tally to 73

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The new infections detected on Wednesday in Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal were the first Omicron cases in these states….reports Asian Lite News

A total of 12 new cases of the Omicron variant of Sars-Cov-2 were reported across India on Wednesday – four each in Maharashtra and Kerala, two in Telangana, and one each in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal – as the national tally of the heavily mutated variant continued to swell.

The new infections detected on Wednesday in Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal were the first Omicron cases in these states, officials said.

All the 12 cases detected in the country on Wednesday were all either international travellers or were close contacts of foreign returnees, which means that there does not, currently, seem to be any community transmission of the highly transmissible version of the virus that causes Covid-19.

After Wednesday’s cases, the national tally now stands at 73, according to data compiled across states. With 32 confirmed Omicron cases, Maharashtra has the largest Omicron tally in the country. It is followed by Rajasthan with 17 cases of the new variant, Delhi with six such infections, Kerala with five, Gujarat with four, Karnataka three, Telangana two, and one each in West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh and Tamil Nadu.

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One of the new Omicron cases detected on Tuesday was a seven-year-old boy who landed in Hyderabad from Abu Dhabi on December 12, but subsequently took a connecting flight for West Bengal, officials said. He left for a relative’s place in Malda from Kolkata airport. The child’s parents have been placed under isolation and efforts are underway to trace those who came in contact with him, West Bengal health officials said.

In Maharashtra, genome sequencing detected four new Omicron cases – one woman and three men – all of whom are asymptomatic, state officials said. According to preliminary information, one patient had travelled to Sharjah and another patient was his high-risk contact. The third case had travelled to Dubai, while the fourth patient had recently visited Ireland, it said. Maharashtra health secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas, while making a presentation in the state cabinet, said on Wednesday that Omicron is spreading fast in the world and Maharashtra is likely to see a surge in cases by January.

In Telangana, two international traveller – a 24-year-old woman from Kenya and a 23-year-old man from Somalia — tested positive on December 12 after they landed in Hyderabad, state director of health G Srinivasa Rao said. “Their samples were sent to the laboratory for genome sequencing … Both of them were found to be positive for the Omicron variant,” the health director said. Both of them have mild symptoms, he added.

Kerala health minister Veena George said that two of the four new cases in the state were the wife and mother-in-law of the state’s first Omicron case (that was detected on Sunday). Of the remaining two, one was a Thiruvananthapuram resident who had returned from the UK and the other was from Ernakulam who had just come back from Congo, the minister said.

Tamil Nadu’s first Omicron patient was a 47-year-old man who had travelled from Nigeria via Doha to Chennai. “He was double vaccinated and he is stable,” health minister M Subramanian said. Seven of the patient’s family members, including a 16-year-old and one co-passenger who travelled with the patient from Doha have all tested positive for Covid-19. Their samples were sent for genome testing and results are awaited.

India’s first batch of Omicron cases was reported from Bengaluru on December 2 when two people – a 66-year-old and a 46-year-old male — tested positive for the variant. Since then, 10 other regions have reported cases of the variant.

The Union health ministry has issued an advisory to the states to vigorously screen and test all passengers coming in international flights and has extended all Covid restrictions till December 31. The ministry told states to do proper contract tracking of contacts of persons found to be having Omicron.

The Omicron variant, which was first detected in South Africa, has spread to at least 63 countries with one death being reported in UK where the variant is fast spreading. According to World Health Organisation, the Omicron will soon surpass Delta and would become the dominant variant across the globe. Authorities worldwide are racing to determine how contagious the variant is and how effective existing vaccines are against it.

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