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Updated on: Thursday, December 02, 2021, 08:03 PM IST

Omicron threat in Maharashtra: 28 samples sent for genome sequencing, says health department

Representative Image
 | Pixabay

Representative Image | Pixabay

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Amid concerns over the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the Maharashtra government on Thursday said 861 international passengers have been tested with RT-PCR and three of them have been found positive for COVID-19 till today morning. Samples of these three passengers have been sent for genomic sequencing, the public health department said.

Besides, field surveillance of all international passengers who have arrived since November 1 is underway, said the health department. And during this, a total of 28 samples from both airport and field surveillance have been sent for genome sequencing. Out of these 28, 25 are international travellers and 3 their close contacts, it added.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra on Thursday amended its air travel rules making seven-day institutional quarantine mandatory for passengers from only three "high-risk" countries -- South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

Earlier, the state government's November 30 order had made institutional quarantine mandatory for passengers arriving from all "at-risk" countries in the central government's list in view of global concerns over the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Maharashtra Chief Secretary Debashish Chakravarty earlier in the day had said the state government was considering a revision of its guidelines, a day after the Centre wrote to the state saying its order was in divergence with the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the Union government.

As per the latest order, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe have been categorized as "high-risk" countries in view of the Omicron threat.

"High-risk air passengers" (for whom institutional quarantine would be mandatory) would be those arriving from above three countries or those who have visited these three countries in the past 15 days, said the government release.

Such passengers will be deplaned on priority and separate counters will be arranged at all international airports in Maharashtra for screening and verification. They will undergo RT-PCR test immediately on arrival, and a second test will be conducted on the 7th day, the release said.

If the RT-PCR test is positive, the passenger will be shifted to a hospital. In case the test is negative on the 7th day, the passenger will be asked to undergo further seven-day quarantine at home.

Information regarding travel in the last 15 days shall be checked by immigration on arrival, and furnishing incorrect information will lead to action under the Disaster Management Act, the release warned.

For domestic travel, passengers will either have to be fully vaccinated, or carry negative RT-PCR test report obtained within 72 hours before boarding.

(With PTI inputs)

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Published on: Thursday, December 02, 2021, 08:03 PM IST
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