No confirmed case of Omicron COVID-19 variant in India⁠ so far — both Centre and states have tightened scrutiny at airports

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No confirmed case of Omicron COVID-19 variant in India⁠ so far — both Centre and states have tightened scrutiny at airports
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  • According to an updated announcement by WHO, people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron, as compared to other variants of concern, but there is limited information so far.
  • The government of India released new guidelines for resuming international flights on November 28 and listed out some countries ‘at risk’.
  • Passengers travelling from the countries categorised under ‘at risk’ will have to undergo a mandatory RT-PCR COVID-19 test on arrival in India.
  • Alarm bells for the Omicron variant have already started ringing in Karnataka and Mumbai.
According to an updated announcement by WHO, on November 26, that there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern, but there is limited information so far.

In order to prevent the spread of the new strain in the country, the government of India released new guidelines for resuming international flights on November 28 and listed out these countries ‘at risk’ ⁠— South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel. These are the countries in which cases of the new strain have been found.

Other than these countries, Australia and Canada have also detected two cases of the new variant so far after conducting urgent genomic sequencing from overseas travellers.

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Rules for passengers arriving from ‘at risk’ countries listed above

Passengers travelling from the countries categorised under ‘at risk’ will have to undergo mandatory RT-PCR COVID-19 test on arrival in India.

Those who test positive for the new Omicron variant will be quarantined until they test negative. If the travellers test positive for any other COVID-19 variant, other than Omicron, will be released at the discretion of the doctor, depending upon the condition.

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Travellers who test negative for COVID-19 coming from the listed countries will have to go under home isolation and will also have to take another test on the eighth day. If the test turned out to be positive, the traveller will need to report to the COVID-19 helpline.

New Omicron variant in India

Alarm bells for the Omicron variant have already started ringing in Karnataka and Mumbai.

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Two out of 94 travellers in Karnataka, and another one in Thane district of Maharashtra, ⁠— all three were travelling from South Africa ⁠— have tested positive for COVID-19.

The authorities are still waiting for the genome sequencing reports to confirm whether it is the new Omicron variant or not, according to the latest reports.

Steps taken by the state governments

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After two travellers being tested positive for COVID-19, the Karnataka government has decided to put all travellers under ‘ institutional isolation’ for ten days with a mandatory genome sequencing test.

Other states like Gujarat, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu have intensified screening at the international airports in the wake of the new Omicron COVID-19 variant.

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