Covid-19: Amid Omicron scare, Karnataka still awaits genome report on variant found in traveller from South Africa

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The Karnataka government is still awaiting the genome sequencing report on the coronavirus variant found in a person who arrived in Bengaluru from South Africa a fortnight ago and tested positive for Covid-19, Chief Minister Basvaraj Bommai said Wednesday.

This genome sequencing report assumes significance as it could reveal whether the person was infected with the Omicron variant, prevalent in South Africa and other African nations. India, as of now, is yet to report any Covid-19 case of the Omicron variant of the virus.

“We have sent one sample to NCBS (National Centre for Biological Sciences). We are looking at this seriously and as soon as there is a report we will take action on it,” said the chief minister who is scheduled to travel to New Delhi on Thursday to meet the Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandivya and other national leaders of the BJP.

“One strain is different, experts have said, and so we have sent the samples to NCBS. All the other travellers have shown the Delta variant. We will have clarity when the report comes,” Bommai said in Hubbali on Wednesday.

“We have not got the genome sequencing report as yet. Maybe in a day or two, we will get it,” the state Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said Wednesday.

The health minister had stated two days ago that the state government has sought clarity on a variant discovered in a 63-year-old traveller from South Africa and said that it was different from the Delta variant, predominant in India since the beginning of the second wave of Covid-19.

Health department sources said the samples from the 63-year-old traveller from South Africa had been sent for genome sequencing to NCBS in Bengaluru for clarity on the “different variant” and not the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) as stated by the health minister two days ago.

The Karnataka chief minister has meanwhile said that one of his priorities during his visit to Delhi on Thursday would be to seek booster doses for frontline and health workers in Karnataka.

The Karnataka government on Tuesday decided to test all foreign travellers arriving in Bengaluru from December 1.

“Although the central guideline is to test five per cent of passengers arriving on international flights, the chief minister has gone one step further and decided to test all arrivals. Passengers will be delayed on arrival but this is inevitable and will need to be done. There will be more than 2,000 passengers arriving on international flights every day,” the health minister said.

“We have decided on mandatory testing for all arrivals because there will be rapid spread if people are infected and they move into the cities and then it becomes difficult to track everyone,” CM Basavaraj Bommai said.



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