It’s just been a few months since the second Covid wave started to settle down and a new variant called ‘Omicron’ is already posing a major threat to the world. Having originated from South Africa on November 24, now there are a total of 48 countries that have confirmed omicron cases. As per recent data, India has also reported 23 confirmed omicron cases across Karnataka, Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat, etc.. Following the threat of its contagiousness, World Health Organization (WHO) has identified omicron as a “variant of concern,” as it seems to be 500 per cent more infectious than the previous variants. It is heavily mutated with 45-52 amino acid changes across the whole genome and 26-32 changes in the spike protein (part that attaches to human cells).
According to the reports, the first two cases found in Karnataka were both males; one is a 66-year-old South African national and the second, a 46-year-old Indian doctor from Bengaluru. After complete monitoring of the genomic variations by the Indian SARS CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), both the individuals were detected with mild symptoms. Also, the one from Bengaluru is said to have no travel history, but out of his 13 primary contacts and 205 secondary contacts, 5 of them have tested positive for Covid and are under isolation. Union Home Ministry’s joint secretary, Lav Agarwal said, “We need not panic about Omicron detection but awareness is absolutely essential. Follow Covid-appropriate behaviour and avoid gatherings.”
With the Omicron triggering fear in India, Government of Karnataka, took several measures to curb the spread of the disease, like mandatory 72 hour prior RTPCR negative test report by those coming from Kerala and Maharashtra. Apart from this, steps like intense screening of international passengers at airport, serious border checks, especially at Chamarajanagar, Dakshina Kannada, Mysuru and Kodagu, ban on public events at educational institutions have also been taken. The government has allowed only 500 people for marriage functions and those without the double dose vaccination, will not be allowed to enter multiplexes, shopping malls and theatres.
India had earlier planned to restart the scheduled commercial flights on December 15, 2021, but later scrapped the plan and imposed new protocols from December 1st, 2021. All international travelers will have to fill a self-declaration form (SDF) and present their negative RTPCR report at the airport check-in, even if they are tested negative, they have to undergo a 7 days home quarantine followed by a re-test on the 8th day. If a continuous positive report is seen, samples will be taken for genome testing for a further detailed research.