India reports first cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus

New Delhi, Dec 2 (EFE).- India on Thursday reported that the it had detected two cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the first ever in the country of over 1.35 billion people which has witnessed a gradual return to normalcy after having become the global epicenter of the pandemic earlier this year.

The two cases were confirmed among two men aged 66 and 46 in the southern state of Karnataka, with both displaying light symptoms, joint health secretary Lav Agarwal said in a press conference.

“In all such cases in the country and across the world so far, no severe symptom has been noted. The WHO has said that its (the variant’s) emerging evidence is being studied,” Agarwal said.

The cases were detected after Indian authorities hardened prevention measures among passengers arriving from countries listed as high-risk.

“There is no need to panic about the Omicron detection,” the secretary said, attributing the discovery of the cases to the effectiveness of the security measures, while calling for greater awareness about the variant.

The variant’s presence was confirmed after the two men tested positive for Covid-19 upon their arrival in the country, and subsequently the samples were sent for genome sequencing.

All the people who have come into contact with the two patients have been identified and the necessary preventive measures have been taken, Agarwal said, without divulging their country of origin due to privacy concerns.

Although India has kept international flights suspended since March 2020, it has established bilateral air bubbles with over 20 countries, allowing a limited number of flights to operate.

From this week, passengers arriving in the country have to undergo an RT-PCR test at the airport, remain there until the result comes out, and undergo genome sequencing tests if the test returns positive.

From Dec. 1, 10 people have tested positive in the country’s international airports out of around 10,000 passengers.

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