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Updated on: Thursday, December 02, 2021, 06:12 PM IST

'This emphasizes need for all countries to step up surveillance': WHO after India confirms two Omicron cases

A health worker checks body temperature of passengers as a precaution against the coronavirus, at Dadar Railway Station in Mumbai | Kunal Patil

A health worker checks body temperature of passengers as a precaution against the coronavirus, at Dadar Railway Station in Mumbai | Kunal Patil

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After India confirmed two cases of Omicron variant on Thursday, Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia, Dr Poonam Khetrapal said that the detection of the two cases in South-East Asia Region, was not unexpected in view of the interconnected world that we live in.

Two cases of Omircron have been detected in Karnataka so far through genome sequencing, the Union Health Ministry of India informed today. Both persons had travelled from South Africa. Their contacts have been identified and are under monitoring, the minsitry added.

Dr Poonam Khetrapal emphasised that there is a need for all countries to step up surveillance, be on alert and rapidly detect any importation and take measures to curtail further spread of the virus. "Response measures for all variants, including Omicron, is the same as that for SARs CoV2," the WHO regional director added.

Adding Omicron variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning she said, "researchers around the world are conducting studies to better understand transmissibility, severity and immune escape capabilities of the variant."

She further said, World Health Organisation commends countries which have been able to quickly detect and report cases of the new Variant of Concern.

The new COVID-19 variant was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on November 25. As per the WHO, the first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9 this year.

On November 26, the WHO named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as 'Omicron'. The WHO has classified Omicron as a 'variant of concern'.

So far Omicron has been detected in 24 countries. Here’s a list of all countries that have so far reported cases:

1. Botswana – 19 cases

2. South Africa – 77 cases

3. Nigeria – Three cases

4. United Kingdom – 22 cases

5. South Korea – Five cases

6. Australia – Seven cases

7. Austria – One case

8. Belgium – One case

9. Brazil – Three cases

10. Czech Republic – One case

6. Australia – Seven cases

7. Austria – One case

8. Belgium – One case

9. Brazil – Three cases

10. Czech Republic – One case

11. France – One case

12. Germany – Nine cases

13. Hong Kong – Four cases

14. Israel – Four cases

15. Italy – Nine cases

16. Japan – Two cases

17. Netherlands – 16 cases

18. Norway – Two cases

19. Spain – Two cases

20. Portugal – 13 cases

21. Sweden – Three cases

22. Canada – Six cases

23. Denmark – Four cases

24. India - Two cases

After detection of two cases in Karnataka, the Centre informed that no severe symptoms of the new variant has been reported so far.

Addressing a media briefing Joint Secretary of the Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been studying the emerging evidence of Omicron.

"All Omicron related cases are found to have mild symptoms so far...In all such cases in the country and across the world so far, no severe symptom has been noted. World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that its emerging evidence is being studied," the Joint Secretary said.

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Published on: Thursday, December 02, 2021, 06:12 PM IST
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