India

Omicron Had Come To India Two Days Before Official Announcement: Virologist

New Delhi: Omicron had come to India before official news of it having set foot in the country was reported. Karnataka had detected the new variant on November 30 and the announcement came on December 2.

India detected the first cases of Omicron variant two days before the official announcement, top virologist and nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka told News18.com.

To double-check the findings that the state spotted a new variant of novel coronavirus labelled as “variant if concern” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the reports were sent to the Centre.

“Once the reports were verified by all experts at state and central level, the announcement was made. Karnataka had detected a new variant on November 30 and the announcement came on December 2,” Dr V Ravi, who also heads the state’s Genomic Surveillance Committee, told News18.com. “States aren’t allowed to make such announcements considering the sensitive nature of the issue.”

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had on December 2 announced the detection of the country’s first two cases of Omicron variant in Karnataka following which Maharashtra and Gujarat also reported the presence of the new variant on December 4.

“Karnataka was the first state to detect Alpha strain and now Omicron. We have been on the top of genomic sequencing surveillance, so far. By the time the Centre announced the presence of the Omicron variant, all public health actions had taken place, including tracking and tracing,” Ravi was quoted as saying.

According to him, it is too soon to declare community transmission. “We can call community transmission if we find Omicron-positive people in clusters but with just one odd case, it will be too soon to label it as community transmission,” he was quoted as saying.

Emphasising the need to control “political and religious congregations”, he added that following Covid-appropriate behaviour is the only way forward in preventing a third COVID-19 wave in India.

OB Bureau

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