CHENNAI: The Covid-19 cluster at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) in Chennai shows that the Omicron variant is spreading in the community, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian said on Monday, adding the situation had changed from when it was only international travellers who tested positive.
His statement came two days after it was revealed that 39 people at the RGGGH tested positive for Covid, their samples showing an S-gene drop, which is a marker of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant.
These 39 people include doctors and nurses who contracted the infection from a diabetic patient who underwent a surgery at the hospital. The patient had no travel history.
Besides, random collection of samples in the State recently led to the detection of three Omicron cases, the sources for which officials are still trying ascertain. Community transmission is when the source of infection for several cases is unknown.
“Tamil Nadu has 97 cases of S-gene drop, and samples have been sent to whole genome sequencing labs in Pune, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. We are still waiting for the reports,” the health minister said, adding that Tamil Nadu has set up a Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) lab, but it is yet to get the Union Health Ministry’s approval.
“If the approval is granted, Omicron cases will be confirmed sooner. Unfortunately, the Union Health Ministry declares the results only as Omicron patients are being discharged from hospital after recovery,” Subramanian said.
So far, 34 cases of Omicron have been confirmed in Tamil Nadu. As of Monday, there are 17 active cases.
Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan, meanwhile, pointed out that the threat of the Delta variant should not be forgotten. The Delta variant is still dominant in the State, he said.