A man who returned from Zimbabwe has been found infected with the Omicron variant of coronavirus in Gujarat’s Jamnagar, the state health department said. This is the third Omicron case in India.
The sample of the Jamnagar resident, a 72-year-old man, was sent for genome sequencing after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, news agency PTI reported quoting the state health department, adding Gujarat health commissioner Jai Prakash Shivhare has confirmed that the man was found infected with Omicron.
The other two cases in India are of a 46-year-old fully vaccinated doctor from Bengaluru, who had no travel history and developed symptoms of fever and body ache, and a 66-year-old South African national who came to India with a negative COVID-19 report.
The country has stepped up testing and surveillance of all incoming international passengers, especially from at-risk nations since the Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa.
The World Health Organisation has said it could take weeks to determine whether Omicron is more transmissible and whether it causes more severe infections – as well as how effective current treatments and vaccines are against it.
But the new variant has already cast the world’s recovery into doubt. More than two dozen nations including India have now detected cases of the variant.
The Health Ministry on Friday said it expects the Omicron variant to cause less severe disease, thanks to vaccinations and high prior exposure to the Delta variant that infected nearly 70 per cent of the population by July.
Nearly half of India’s 944 million adults have been fully vaccinated. As many as 84 per cent have received at least one dose, with more than 125 million people eligible now as the government pushes more to get inoculated in the face of Omicron.
“Given the fast pace of vaccination in India and high exposure to Delta variant, the severity of the disease is anticipated to be low. However, scientific evidence is still evolving,” the Health Ministry said.