Delhi reports first case of Omicron variant

Patient has travel history to Tanzania

December 05, 2021 11:58 am | Updated 06:14 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A scene at the LNJP hospital after India’s fifth Omicron case was detected in Delhi as a Tanzania returnee tested positive for the strain, in New Delhi on December 5, 2021.

A scene at the LNJP hospital after India’s fifth Omicron case was detected in Delhi as a Tanzania returnee tested positive for the strain, in New Delhi on December 5, 2021.

The national capital reported its first case of the COVID variant Omicron on Sunday, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said.

Mr. Jain said a patient admitted to the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital, who had returned from Tanzania, had tested positive for the new variant.

Also read: Fresh cases in Maharashtra, Gujarat take India’s Omicron tally to 4

The patient had sore throat, weakness and body ache according to health officials who added that the patient’s travel history is being collated and his contacts are being traced. Mr. Jain said the Delhi government is testing all the people coming from the affected countries.

“So far, 17 corona positive cases have been found and all these patients have been admitted to LNJP Hospital,” he said.

The Minister added that along with this, six people who have come in direct contact with these 17 positive cases have also been admitted to the isolation ward and are under observation and getting the best possible treatment.

Genome sequencing of all 17 was done so that the new variant of Omicron could be confirmed.

Also read: Was Omicron designated a variant of concern in haste?

So far, genome sequencing of 12 people has been completed, out of which according to the initial report, one person who came from Tanzania has been confirmed to have the Omicron variant.

This is the fifth case of the variant detected in India. The first two cases were reported from Karnataka earlier this week. The other two cases were detected from Gujarat and Maharashtra on Saturday.

Omicron, first detected in South Africa on November 25, has been described as a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Watch: Worldview with Suhasini Haidar | Has the world jumped the gun regarding Omicron?

In Delhi all COVID-positive international travellers are being admitted to the LNJP Hospital, where a dedicated ward has been set up for isolating and treating them.

According to the Centre, the countries designated as “at-risk” are all European countries, including the UK, and South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.

Under the new norms, RT-PCR tests are mandatory for passengers arriving from the “at-risk” countries.

Also read: COVID-19 | Genome consortium advises booster shots

Speaking about the development Mr. Jain said, “People of Delhi should not panic. Omicron is not a new disease but a variant of the coronavirus itself. Its symptoms are also similar to almost all the last variants,” he said.

The Minister added that the protocol for its treatment and prevention is also the same as before.

“Seeing the cases of corona decreasing, people were not following COVID-19 appropriate behaviour but now is the time when you need to be more careful. People who have not yet taken the vaccine should get vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said.

He further added, “The Delhi government had completed its preparations even before the arrival of the new Corona variant. To combat this virus, the Delhi government established 40 isolation wards in Lok Nayak Hospital, with an additional 500 beds ready to go if needed.”

In response to the Central Government's decision not to halt flights from all countries affected by the Omicron variant, Mr. Jain stated, “It is very unfortunate. Five new cases have been reported in the country so far. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had written a letter to the Center and appealed to stop the flights coming from these countries for some time. But the Central Government did not do so”.

He further added that “Delhi receives the maximum number of flights from abroad, so Delhi is most at risk from this. The Central Government should accept the demand of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and flights coming from all the countries affected by the Omicron variant should be banned at the earliest”.

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