Travel history, contacts, Africa links are being probed; tally goes up to 21
New Delhi: With 17 new Omicron cases detected across India on Sunday -- one in Delhi, nine in Rajasthan and seven in Maharashtra -- the number of the highly infectious Covid-19 variant cases reported in the country has gone up to 21. Most of those who have tested positive for the new coronavirus variant had either recently arrived from Africa or were in contact with such people.
In Delhi, a 37-year-old man who arrived from Tanzania became the first person to test positive for the new Covid-19 variant in the national capital. The patient, currently admitted to the Lok Nayak Jayaprakash (LNJP) Hospital, has mild symptoms. “The patient was admitted to the hospital on December 2 with mild symptoms -- sore throat, fever and body ache,” LNJP medical director Suresh Kumar said. “His travel history is being collated and his contacts are being traced.”
In Maharashtra, seven more people tested positive for Omicron in Pune. A 44-year-old woman from Lagos, Nigeria, who had come to visit her brother on November 24 in Pimpri-Chinchwad, along with her two daughters, was found to be infected with the new variant by the National Institute of Virology in Pune. Her 45-year-old brother and his two-and-a-half-year-old and seven-year-old daughters were also found to be infected with Omicron. Also, a 47-year-old man has tested positive for the variant in Pune.
Four members of a family and five others from Adarsh Nagar in Jaipur tested positive for Omicron on Sunday after returning from South Africa. State health secretary Vaibhav Galriya said the genome sequencing of their swab samples confirmed it. Their samples were sent for genome sequencing to Jaipur’s state-run Sawai Man Singh Hospital.
The country had reported the first two cases of Omicron on Thursday in Karnataka -- a 66-year-old South African flyer and a 46-year-old Bengaluru doctor with no travel history. On Saturday, a 72-year-old NRI man from Gujarat and a 33-year-old man from Maharashtra had also tested positive for the new strain. All the patients detected with Omicron, excluding the 66-year-old African national who has left for Dubai, who are undergoing treatment in different hospitals, are reported to be in stable condition.
As the world battles Omicron, India on Sunday saw a single-day rise of 2,796 fatalities, with Bihar and Kerala carrying out a reconciliation exercise of their Covid-19 data, pushing the country's death toll to 4,73,326. As many 2,426 deaths in Bihar and 263 deaths in Kerala were added. With 8,895 new infections reported in the last 24 hours, the country’s total tally of Covid-19 cases has increased to 3,46,33,255.
India had recorded a single-day rise of 3,998 fatalities on July 21 after Maharashtra carried out the 14th reconciliation exercise of its Covid-19 data. As for the high 2,796 fatalities, the health ministry said 2,426 reconciled deaths by Bihar were adjusted in Sunday’s data. Kerala also cleared a backlog of 263 deaths. Hence, the nation’s death tally showed a spike.
Of the 127.61 crore Covid-19 vaccine doses administered so far, India has managed to provide double dose vaccination to over 50 per cent of its adult population. The issue of administering “additional” doses of Covid-19 vaccines to immunocompromised individuals will also be deliberated upon at the meeting of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation scheduled to be held on Monday.
A booster dose is given to an individual after a predefined period when the immune response due to the primary vaccination is presumed to have declined, while an additional dose is given to immunocompromised and immunosuppressed individuals when primary vaccination schedule doesn’t provide adequate protection from the infection and disease.
The Serum Institute of India (SII) had recently sought approval from the drug regulator for using its vaccine Covishield as a booster dose against the coronavirus infection. In an application to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), Prakash Kumar Singh, director, government and regulatory affairs at SII, said UK-MHRA has already approved the booster dose for AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, while citing that there is no shortage of Covishield in India and there is a demand for a booster dose from those who have already taken two doses in view of the ongoing pandemic and emergence of new strains.
In its bulletin dated November 29, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) had recommended a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccines for those above 40 years with preference to high-risk and high-exposure population. But on Saturday it said its recommendation was not for the national immunisation programme as many more scientific experiments are required to assess its impact.