Days after two foreign nationals from South Africa tested positive for Covid-19 in Bengaluru upon arrival and it was said they have been affected by the Delta variant, state Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said it was found that at least one of the two has been affected by “a variant different from the Delta variant”.
The Karnataka government has sought clarity from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union health ministry on the variant detected in the foreign national.
Sudhakar said, “I will not comment on the detection of the Omicron variant. We are holding discussions with ICMR and the ministry of health at the Centre. One person who is around 63-year-old has been infected by a variant that is different from the Delta variant. The ICMR has been consulted and we should have clarity by this evening.”
On Friday, the district authorities of Bengaluru had said the two travellers were infected with the Delta variant and not the new Omicron variant reported in South Africa.
Sudhakar added, “I have spoken to colleagues and medical experts in other countries, including South Africa. One of the reassuring factors is that the clinicians who have treated patients infected by the new variant are saying that it spreads rapidly but is not as virulent as the Delta variant and that the severity of the disease is lower.”
“The symptoms include nausea, high pulse rates etc and unlike the previous variants, the symptoms of loss of taste and smell are not pronounced. There is tiredness but hospitalisation and ICU treatment requirement is low. This is what doctors who are friends are saying regarding their experience over the last 15 days with infections by the new variant,” Dr Sudhakar said.
All travellers who have arrived in Karnataka in the last 10 to 15 days are being tracked for the last two days, the health minister said.
“We will get a report by December 1 on the new variant and its characteristics and patterns. As per the latest information, the variant has been seen in 12 different countries and there will be international travellers who have come from these countries and they will have to be monitored,” he said.
“The state technical advisory committee is in constant touch with the state health ministry. They will be a part of a meeting Tuesday to decide on additional measures to curb the spread of the virus,” Dr Sudhakar said.