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Omicron Coronavirus 4 December Highlights: Maharashtra man who returned from South Africa tests positive for Omicron, fourth case in India

🔴 Coronavirus Active Cases in India Today, COVID-19 New Variant Omicron Latest News 4 December 2021: Earlier, a 71-year old NRI, who landed in Gujarat's Jamnagar city from Zimbabwe was found to be infected with the Omicron variant.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: December 5, 2021 9:29:31 am
A health worker conducts Covid-19 testing of commuters amid fear of spread of Omicron variant, in Bengaluru, Dec. 3, 2021. (Representational image/PTI)

Omicron Covid Variant Highlights: A 33-year-old man who returned from South Africa’s Cape Town to Maharashtra’s Mumbai via Dubai and Delhi has tested positive for Omicron variant of coronavirus. The passenger is a resident of Kalyan-Dombivli municipal area and has not taken the Covid-19 vaccine. Twelve of the passenger’s high-risk contacts and 23 of the low-risk contacts have been traced and all have tested negative for Covid-19. Additionally, 25 of the co-passengers from the Delhi-Mumbai flight have also tested negative. More contacts are currently being traced.

This is the fourth Omicron case to be detected in India. Earlier in the day, a 71-year old NRI, who landed in Gujarat’s Jamnagar city from Zimbabwe was found to be infected with the Omicron variant, according to the nodal officer of Covid-19 in the city. Two samples of the patient were sent — one to Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre, which detected the presence of the Omicron variant, and another to NIV Pune. The whole genome sequencing report from NIV is expected on Monday.

Two people in Karnataka — a 46-year-old doctor and a 66-year-old South African national — were found to be infected with the new variant.

In other news, the Centre has said that it anticipates the severity of the Omicron variant of coronavirus to be low in the country given the fast pace of vaccination and high exposure to the Delta variant. Speaking in the Parliament, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday highlighted that a decision on booster dose and Covid jabs for children will be taken on the basis of scientific guidance from experts.

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Omicron Covid Variant Live Updates: Four cases of Omicron found in India; Severity of Omicron to be low in India, says Centre; Health minister says will consult experts on booster shot decision; INSACOG recommends booster dose for those over 40 and at high-risk; Follow this space for the latest Covid updates.

20:26 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Omicron case found in Maharashtra: Patient kept in isolation in Kalyan Dombivli

Additional Chief Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas confirmed that the genome sequencing of the 33-year-old man has thas found that he is infected with the Omicron variant. He travelled from Cape Town via Dubai and Delhi and landed in Mumbai on November 24. 

“Only on November 24, he developed a fever but now, he is asymptomatic and healthy. He has been shifted to an isolation centre,” said Pratibha Panpatil, Chief Medical Officer of the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC).

He had tested negative in an RT-PCR test conducted 72 hours prior to his inter-connected flights from Cape Town to Mumbai. Upon landing at Delhi airport, an RT-PCR test was conducted but even before getting the result, he was allowed to fly to Mumbai. Later, after landing in Mumbai, he received his RT-PCR report which showed the presence of the pathogens of Covid-19. However, he showed the earlier negative test report to the screening officer at the Mumbai airport. Read more

19:45 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Omicron case found in Maharashtra's Dombivli: Passenger's high-risk contacts test negative

The 33-year-old passenger who arrived in Mumbai on November 24, 2021 from Capetown, South Africa through Dubai and Delhi is the first patient with Omicron variant in Maharashtra. He is a resident of Kalyan-Dombivli municipal area and has not taken any Covid-19 vaccine.

On November 24, the passenger got mild fever. However, no other symptoms were observed. He is being treated at the Covid Care Centre in Kalyan-Dombivli.

Twelve of the passenger's high-risk contacts and 23 of the low-risk contacts have been traced and all have tested negative for Covid-19. Additionally, 25 of the co-passengers from the Delhi-Mumbai flight have also tested negative. More contacts are currently being traced. 

19:30 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Maharashtra man who returned from South Africa tests positive for Omicron, fourth case in India

A man who returned from South Africa to Maharashtra’s Mumbai via Dubai and Delhi has tested positive for Omicron variant of coronavirus.

This is the fourth Omicron case to be detected in India. Earlier in the day, a 71-year old NRI, who landed in Gujarat’s Jamnagar city from Zimbabwe was found to be infected with the Omicron variant, according to the nodal officer of Covid-19 in the city.

19:15 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Delhi airport sets up 20 counters for international flyers who have pre-booked Covid test to ease 'chaos'

The Delhi airport authorities on Saturday said 20 dedicated counters have been set up for the passengers arriving from "at risk" countries and having pre-booked their mandatory Covid-19 test, after many flyers complained of chaos and crowding at the terminal following the implementation of new travel guidelines.

There will be dedicated queues for these passengers, Delhi International Airport Limited said. They will save the time taken for registration and will proceed directly for testing, it added. (PTI)

18:24 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Omicron case detected in Jamnagar: Gujarat CM Bhupendra Patel reviews Covid situation

After a case of Omicron was found in Gujarat's Jamnagar, CM Bhupendra Patel reviewed the readiness of state health system, ANI reported. He gave clear instructions to proceed with the strategy of tracing, testing, and treatment in positive cases, as per the guidelines of the Centre.

The CM also appealed to all citizens to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour such as social distancing and wearing masks, the Chief Minister's Office stated.

18:04 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Omicron variant may have picked up a piece of common-cold virus

The Omicron variant of the virus that causes Covid-19 likely acquired at least one of its mutations by picking up a snippet of genetic material from another virus – possibly one that causes the common cold – present in the same infected cells, according to researchers.

This genetic sequence does not appear in any earlier versions of the coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, but is ubiquitous in many other viruses including those that cause the common cold, and also in the human genome, researchers said.

By inserting this particular snippet into itself, Omicron might be making itself look “more human,” which would help it evade attack by the human immune system, said Venky Soundararajan of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based data analytics firm Nference, who led the study posted on Thursday on the website OSF Preprints. Read more

17:55 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Govt writes to states/UT over rising weekly positivity rates & deaths

The Union health ministry on Saturday wrote to Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha and Mizoram to take necessary steps under the 'Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate-Covid Appropriate Behaviour' strategy to control the spread of Covid-19 and reduce fatality. The move comes in view of rising cases of the infection, weekly positivity rates and weekly deaths in some districts. 

In a letter addressed to the principal secretary (Health), he pointed out that Karnataka has reported a slight increase in weekly new cases. The secretary further said Kerala has reported 1,71,521 new cases in the month ending December 3, with a contribution of 55.8 per cent to the country's new cases from over the past month.

As for Jammu and Kashmir, Bhushan said, a few districts such as Kathua, Jammu, Ganderbal and Baramulla showed an increase in the previous week. In Tamil Nadu, Vellore, Thiruvallur and Chennai showed an increase in weekly new cases in the past week. In Mizoram, it is important to note that Aizawl district is reporting a high quantum of weekly new cases. (PTI)

17:38 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Double vaccinate against Covid first, experts say amid calls for booster shots

India should prioritise double vaccinating its eligible population against Covid over booster shots given the large number of people still to get the base layer of protection against the infection, say scientists.

Concerns over the Omicron variant and waning vaccine-induced protection against the infection have highlighted the need for boosters to protect the most vulnerable. And while many countries have already started giving booster shots, several experts here said the priority in India has to be different given that large-scale immunisation programme began only six-eight months go.

In advocating putting boosters on the back-burner for the moment, the experts’ opinion runs counter to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG) that has recommended a booster dose for those above 40 years in high-risk and high-exposure populations. Read more

17:31 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Omicron-stricken South Africa may be glimpse into the future

Dr Sikhulile Moyo was analyzing Covid-19 samples in his lab in Botswana last week when he noticed they looked startlingly different from others. Within days, the world was ablaze with the news that the coronavirus had a new variant of concern — one that appears to be driving a dramatic surge in South Africa and offering a glimpse of where the pandemic might be headed.

Little is known about the new variant, but the spike in South Africa suggests it might be more contagious, said Moyo, the scientist who may have been the first to identify the new variant, though researchers in neighboring South Africa were close on his heels.

It’s not clear if the variant causes more serious illness or can evade the protection of vaccines. Phaahla noted that only a small number of people who have been vaccinated have gotten sick, mostly with mild cases, while the vast majority of those who have been hospitalized were not vaccinated. Read more

A staff member is seen at the Vaccination Centre of Hope in Cape Town on Friday. (Photo: AP)

 

17:21 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Ahmedabad: UK returnee tests positive for Covid, sample sent for genome sequencing

A 30-year-old NRI woman, who landed at Ahmedabad International Airport from London on Friday night, has tested positive for Covid-19.

Ahmedabad chief district health officer Satish Parmar said that of the 222 passengers on the flight, the 30-year-old woman, who holds a US passport, was the only one to test positive for the virus. The sample has been sent to Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre (GBRC) for genome sequencing to ascertain the specific strain. 

“The woman had tested positive some 10-12 days ago at UK and had tested negative on December 1. Upon arrival at Ahmedabad, she tested positive again,” Parmar added. Read more


16:57 (IST)04 Dec 2021
‘Five calls a day, physical visits’: Mumbai issues new home quarantine rules amid Omicron threat

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has released a set of rules to ensure proper monitoring of travellers coming in from ‘at risk’ countries and under home quarantine amid the Omicron threat.

According to the new guidelines, every day, Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) will share a list of international travellers arriving at Mumbai from ‘at risk’ and ‘high risk’ countries, and those who have visited such countries in the last 15 days. The list, however, will only include names of passengers who reside in Mumbai.

“The war room staff will call passengers under home quarantine five times a day. They will ask them about symptoms and request them to stay at home for seven days. The staff will also make physical visits to such homes to ensure that the protocols are being followed,” an official from BMC said. BMC further stated that if housing societies found that a person was not following the protocols, they can inform the ward war rooms. Read more

16:48 (IST)04 Dec 2021
10 months into Covid immunisation drive, Maharashtra acting chief secy takes first dose

Ten months after the mass immunisation programme against Covid-19 began in the state, Acting Chief Secretary Debashis Chakraborty took his first dose of the vaccine on Thursday.

Chakraborty took a shot of Covaxin at the government-run JJ Hospital. Sources at the hospital said that after the matter became public, the bureaucrat held senior doctors at the hospital responsible for ‘leaking’ his personal details. Read more

16:39 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Congress launches online campaign to press for Rs 4 lakh compensation for kin of COVID-19 deceased

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched the party's online campaign demanding compensation for the families of those who died of Covid and accused the government of sleeping while people coped with pain and loss.

On its official Twitter handle, the Congress party said the aim of the campaign was to demand that the central government disclose the actual number of Covid deaths in the country, and "properly compensate all families of the victims with Rs 4 lakh". "#SpeakUpForCovidNyay so the govt is forced to disclose the correct number of Covid deaths," it said. "By making up false numbers, the Modi government is not only withholding compensation for lakhs of families, but it is simply trying to cover up its failure in managing and controlling the pandemic," the party said.

16:13 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Gujarat chief secretary Pankaj Kumar holds review meeting after detection of Omicron variant

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus was confirmed in the sample of a 71-year-old NRI who landed in Gujarat’s Jamnagar from Zimbabwe on November 28, the third such case in the country.

While the (genome sequencing) report from NIV Pune is expected on Monday, the GBRC has confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant in the sample, said Dr SS Chatterjee, nodal officer of Covid-19 for Jamnagar district. Jamnagar district collector Dr Sourabh Pardhi was informed about the presence of the variant by state-level authorities after the same was conveyed to the state health department by GBRC on Saturday.

Meanwhile, following the confirmation, an urgent meeting was held by Gujarat chief secretary Pankaj Kumar with additional chief secretary of health Manoj Aggarwal, health commissioner Jaiprakash Shivhare and other health officials. read more

14:56 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Man from Zimbabwe tests positive for Omicron, says Jamnagar authority

The whole genome sequencing of a 71-year old man, who landed in Gujarat’s Jamnagar city from Zimbabwe, and tested positive for Covid-19 on December 2, has revealed that the patient is infected with the Omicron variant, according to a nodal officer of Covid-19 at Jamnagar, SS Chatterjee.

"The patient had come to Jamanagar on November 28. After developing symptoms of some respiratory disease, he got himself tested at a private lab in the city and the results returned positive. Therefore, he was isolated immediately in the Covid-19 hospital set up by Reliance Foundation in Dental College of Jamnagar," Chatterjee said.

The whole genome sequencing was done by the Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre. Two samples of the patient were sent — one to the GBRC and another to NIV Pune. The whole genome sequencing report from the NIV is awaited.

The man is a citizen of Zimbabwe while his wife is from Jamnagar, where they were on a visit.

14:14 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Double vaccinate against Covid first, experts say amid calls for booster shots

ndia should prioritise double vaccinating its eligible population against Covid over booster shots given the large number of people still to get the base layer of protection against the infection, say scientists. Concerns over the Omicron variant and waning vaccine-induced protection against the infection have highlighted the need for boosters to protect the most vulnerable.

And while many countries have already started giving booster shots, several experts here said the priority in India has to be different given that large-scale immunisation programme began only six-eight months go. In advocating putting boosters on the back-burner for the moment, the experts' opinion runs counter to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG) that has recommended a booster dose for those above 40 years in high-risk and high-exposure populations.

11:20 (IST)04 Dec 2021
🦠 India records 8,603 new covid-19 cases, 415 deaths in last 24 hours

India recorded 8,603 new coronavirus cases and 415 deaths in the last 24 hours ending 8 am Saturday. Active cases stand at 99,974 while 8,190 people recovered on Friday. 

Image

10:59 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Singapore says Omicron not more severe than other variants as of now

There is currently no evidence to suggest that symptoms associated with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 are different or more severe than those of other variants, or that current vaccines and therapeutics would be ineffective against the new variant, according to a news report citing Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH).

Channel News Asia reported that the ministry said two more people infected with Omicron variant travelled through Singapore to Malaysia and Australia.

More data and further studies on Omicron are needed, the MOH said adding that it is expecting to see more such cases being reported globally in the coming weeks.

10:19 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Decision on booster dose, jabs for kids on expert advice: Health Minister

A decision on booster dose and Covid jabs for children will be taken on the basis of scientific guidance from experts, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Friday even as India stepped up surveillance for Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Replying to an 11-hour-long debate on the COVID-19 pandemic in Lok Sabha, Mandaviya said RT-PCR tests have been conducted on more than 16,000 passengers who arrived on 58 flights from "at-risk" countries, of whom 18 have tested positive for COVID-19. The minister said the swab samples of these 18 passengers have been sent for genome sequencing to screen for the Omicron variant of the virus.

10:16 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Centre anticipates severity of Omicron variant of COVID in India to be low

The Centre on Friday said it anticipates the severity of the Omicron variant of coronavirus to be low in the country given the fast pace of vaccination and high exposure to the Delta variant, a day after the first two cases of the new variant was reported in Karnataka, and that a decision on a COVID vaccine booster dose will be on the basis of scientific guidance from experts.

The Union Health Ministry, however, said the scientific evidence for the expected severity of the disease is still evolving, as debates about the booster jabs heat up and several states ramp up testing and step up surveillance for the potentially more contagious variant.

Of the passengers who arrived at IGI Airport Thursday and tested positive for Covid, three came from Paris, two from London and one from Doha, with a recent travel history to South Africa.

LS debate on Covid-19: Opposition says govt mishandled second wave, seeks vaccine roadmap

Opposition parties on Thursday sought to corner the government over its handling of the second wave of the pandemic earlier this year, slow pace of vaccination and poor genome sequencing of the virus during a debate on Covid-19 in Lok Sabha.

Quite a few MPs also raised the issue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s picture on vaccine certificates, arguing that all states had equally contributed in fighting the pandemic and in vaccination, and asked what was the government’s plan on providing booster doses in the wake of the Omicron variant of the virus.

Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary said that less than 30% of the country’s population had been fully vaccinated and asked what the government was doing to fully vaccinate all adults in the face of the new Omicron variant of the virus.

First Omicron cases detected: 2 Karnataka samples show strain

The Union Health Ministry said Thursday that Omicron, the latest Covid variant of concern, has been detected for the first time in India in two cases from Karnataka through genomic surveillance.

The Ministry, however, stressed that there was no need to panic, called for strict adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour and urged everyone to adopt the “universal vaccine” of wearing masks to tackle the new challenge.

“Two cases of the Omicron variant have been found positive. The first is a 66-year-old male and the other is a 46-year-old male… Mostly in all the cases related to Omicron, at present, the symptoms are mild. In the cases of Omicron detected in the country, we are not seeing any severe symptoms,” Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, said.

Bubble will be safe, Omicron symptoms mild: Cricket South Africa doctor

While India’s cricket tour of South Africa is set to be delayed by a week after global panic over the new coronavirus variant Omicron, the hosts have underlined the sturdiness of the bio-safe bubbles put in place for the cricketers.

The chief medical officer of Cricket South Africa (CSA) Dr Shuaib Manjra has said that though the virus spread is “growing exponentially” in Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg region where India are slated to play their first two Tests, there are protocols in place for all eventualities.

Speaking to The Indian Express Manjra said, “South Africa is at the beginning of the fourth wave. Statistically, the cases are growing exponentially. But the evidence so far is that the cases have been mild in general. The risk of hospitalisation, in Gauteng, is growing especially in the unvaccinated population. 75 per cent of the cases suggest that.” Manjra went on to cite the ongoing tour of India A of South Africa to buttress his point saying, “there have been zero positive cases so far.”

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