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Mumbai records 3 new Omicron cases, Maharashtra tally now 17

The diagnosis of the third patient, a man from the densely populated Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia, became a cause of concern on Friday. However, health officers from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that the patient was isolated within minutes of reaching Dharavi, limiting his exposure to close contacts.

Written by Rupsa Chakraborty | Mumbai |
Updated: December 11, 2021 1:45:31 pm
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Maharashtra recorded seven new cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus on Friday. Of these, four are from Pimpri Chinchwad and three from Mumbai, including one from Dharavi.

Of the total 17 Omicron patients in the state, seven have already been discharged.

Of the newly detected Omicron patients in Mumbai, a 25-year-old man returned to the city on December 1. The second, a 37-year-old male, landed in Mumbai from South Africa on December 4. Both are fully vaccinated and have mild symptoms. They are currently admitted at Seven Hills Hospital.

The diagnosis of the third patient, a man from the densely populated Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia, became a cause of concern on Friday. However, health officers from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that the patient was isolated within minutes of reaching Dharavi, limiting his exposure to close contacts.

The patient landed in Mumbai from Tanzania to deliver an address in Dharavi. He was one of the 2% international fliers from ‘non-risk’ countries who underwent an RT-PCR test on arrival at the Mumbai airport. After providing the sample, he was allowed to go to Dharavi.

When the airport found that he was Covid-19 positive, a BMC surveillance officer immediately rushed to Dharavi and took the asymptomatic patient to an isolation ward at Seven Hills Hospital.

“Firstly, he is not a resident of Dharavi, so his exposure was limited to a few people who have already tested negative for Covid-19. Secondly, even before he could mingle with people, we isolated him,” Dr Virendra Mohite, medical officer of G-North ward, told The Indian Express.

The first Covid-19 case in Dharavi was reported on April 1, 2020. Due to its high population density of 277,136/sq km and 8.5 lakh population, concerns about the spread of the infection in the slum were raised. However, while Dharavi recorded a total of 7,173 Covid cases from April 2020 to December 10, 2021, neighbouring areas like Dadar (10,488) and Mahim (10,812) recorded more cases.

Dr Mangala Gomare, executive health officer, BMC, advised against panic. “Travelling from a ‘non-risk’ country, we didn’t institutionally quarantine the patient as per the state’s rule, but due to the stringent surveillance we identified him in time,” she said.

With the possibility of Omicron carriers from non-risk countries, members of the National Covid Task Force have reasoned that it is impossible to screen all international fliers and emphasized full vaccination.

Dr Subhas Salunke, member of the National Covid Task Force, stressed on conducting more genome sequencing and simultaneously keeping a close eye on symptoms of patients to understand the epidemiological characteristics of Omicron. He also suggested allowing only fully vaccinated international fliers to travel and cutting the RT-PCR test time span before travelling to 48 hours from the current 72 hours.

“The variant has infiltrated the world, the enemy has come to our doors. So now, we have to understand the virus to fight against it. More research needs to be done to find out if the variant is virulent, which can lead to health complications among patients.,” said Dr Salunke.

In Maharashtra there are around 1.5 crore unvaccinated people and over 4 crore partially vaccinated people, who can be more vulnerable to the infection. On December 6, Additional Chief Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas stated in a letter that these unvaccinated individuals can “drive a third wave of Covid infection”.

“We have passed the phase where the virus was limited to a handful of countries. It is imperative that the variant will enter through passengers from ‘non-risk’ countries also. The need of the hour is to boost vaccination and introduce booster shots,” said Dr T Jacob John, a virologist and retired professor at Christian Medical College, Vellore.

The other four patients diagnosed with Omicron in Pimpri Chinchwad on Friday are close contacts of the Nigerian woman who was detected with the same variant on December 5.

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