Maharashtra’s Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Friday that swab samples from 28 people, who returned to the state from high-risk countries last month, nine of whom have already tested positive for COVID- 19, were sent for genome sequencing amid concerns about the new Omicron. variant of the virus.
Mr. Tope gave the information by speaking to reporters in his home district, Jalna.
“International travelers arriving in Mumbai from high risk countries have been identified and swab samples from 28 of these people have been sent for genome sequencing. Among them, nine people have already tested positive for COVID-19. However, we are yet to establish whether they carry the new Omicron variant, ”he said.
“We expect to get their genome sequencing report in two days and the next course of action will be decided in case one of them is found infected with the new variant,” the minister added.
Between November 10 and November 30, up to 2,868 people have returned to the state from various countries, he said, adding that the state government has so far tested 485 and nine of them tested positive for COVID-19.
The state’s health department has asked staff to isolate international travelers, who have tested positive for the infection, an official said.
“We are trying to keep them away from other COVID-19 patients as there is little information available on the new variant and its impact on our lives,” the health department official said.
The first cases of the Omicron variant in India were confirmed in two people in Karnataka.
Maharashtra on Thursday changed its air travel rules, mandating a seven-day institutional quarantine for passengers from just three “high-risk” countries – South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Previously, the state government order of November 30 mandated institutional quarantine for passengers arriving from all “at risk” countries on the central government list due to global concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. .
The Omicron strain, first detected in South Africa, has been classified as ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization (WHO).