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Two South Africa returnees test COVID-19 positive in Karnataka

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Guwahati: Two passengers who arrived in Bengaluru from South Africa have tested positive for Covid-19. However, both the travellers were found to be infected with Delta variant of coronavirus, and not the newly found strain Omicron.

State Health secretary T K Anil Kumar said, “We fastened the process of sequencing. Both samples are Delta not Omicron. They are returnees from South Africa in November. Sequencing was done at a Bengaluru lab itself.”

In the last few weeks, at least 94 South African passengers have arrived in Karnataka.

The newly found B.1.1529 variant of coronavirus, named Omnicron, was designated as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday.

The Omnicron variant, first reported in Botswana, has been driving up daily Covid-19 cases in South Africa. Cases of Omnicron variant have also been confirmed in Hong Kong, Belgium, Israel and the UK.

The European Union, the US, Canada, and Saudi Arabia are among the countries which have suspended flights from South Africa.

In India, the Union Health Ministry has alerted all the states and UTs that all international travellers entering India from “at-risk” countries must be subjected to rigorous screening and testing.

The countries identified as ‘at risk’ are the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, Singapore, Israel, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Zimbabwe.

Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar has said that the state government is taking preventive measures in view of the new coronavirus variant Omicron.

The minister said that Omicron has been detected in South Africa, Hong Kong, Israel and Botswana, but there is no sign of it in Karnataka yet.

“We had a meeting on preventive measures yesterday and released guidelines. People coming from these affected countries will take the RT-PCR once they land in Bengaluru. If found positive, they will stay in and around the airport, for treatment. Home quarantine will be mandatory after their arrival. We have deployed Health Department officials at the Airport to monitor the situation,” he said.

Urging the citizens to take the second dose of vaccine, he said, “I request the 45 lakh people who are yet to take the second dose to get it on priority.”

Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai held an emergency meeting on Saturday over the Omicron variant. Other ministers, including Health Minister K Sudhakar, officials of state Health Department and other departments attended the meeting.

Karnataka Minister R Ashoka said more than 1000 people have come from South Africa and all of them have been tested. “One more test will be done after 10 days for those who have already come to Bengaluru or somewhere,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

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