T'PURAM: The state reported the first Omicron case in a 39-year-old man from Ernakulam who landed at Kochi airport on December 6, said Kerala Health minister Veena George on Sunday. He had returned from United Kingdom via Abu Dhabi.
"His wife and mother-in-law are also found to be Covid positive. All of them have been shifted to isolation wards. Their health condition is satisfactory," said the health minister. She has urged people to maintain extreme caution in the wake of new development.
The person was tested negative on arrival. But he developed symptoms on the second day and a retest confirmed the presence of Covid. His samples were later sent for genetic sequencing at Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in Thiruvananthapuram and another lab in Delhi. The results confirming the presence of Omicron variant of Covid causing virus, came on Sunday.
"He came by Etihad flight (EY 280) carrying 149 passengers. All those who sat near him in the flight (seat numbers 26 to 32) were included in high risk category and they have been asked to undergo Covid testing on Monday," said Veena. The driver who came to pick up the person from the airport is also under observation.
She said the state has followed the centre’s guidelines and all arrangement were in place to deal with the situation.
As many as 38 Omicron cases have been detected in Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Chandigarh and Andhra Pradesh since December 2.
The state has started screening international passengers based on the centre’s guidelines from November 30. People coming from high risk countries will be tested on arrival. Those turning negative in the RT-PCR test will have to undergo seven-day home quarantine. It will be followed by a retest on the eighth day.
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Even when they get a negative result in the retest the person has to undergo self monitoring for another seven days. Those who tested positive will be admitted in hospitals and their samples will be sent for genetic sequencing to determine if they have been infected with Omicron. As per the central government guidelines two percent of people arriving from countries other than those designated as high risk, will be tested at the airport. Those tested negative will have to undergo 14-day self monitoring.
The 'at risk' countries included Europe, United Kingdom and 11 other countries - South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong, Israel, Ghana and Tanzania.
The state reported 3777 new Covid cases on Sunday. As many as 196 persons were newly admitted to the hospitals on the day.