Eight new cases of Omicron were detected in Maharashtra on Tuesday, of which seven are from Mumbai and one from Vasai-Virar region, according to the findings of the National Institute of Virology, Pune. Interestingly, none has a travel history and all are close contacts of the first Omicron patient who had returned from South Africa. Nonetheless, the Omicron tally in the state has touched 28, of which nine have been discharged after they cleared the RT-PCR tests.
Of the 28 cases, 12 are from Mumbai, 10 from Pimpri-Chinchwad, two from Pune Municipal Corporation and one each from Kalyan-Dombivali, Nagpur, Latur and Vasai Virar.
“These laboratory samples were taken in the first week of December and all patients are between 24 and 41 years of age. Among these, three are asymptomatic and five have mild symptoms, following which they have been kept in isolation at home and hospital. Moreover, we are also tracking the close contacts of these patients,” said a senior health official from the State health department.
According to preliminary information, none of them has a history of international travel. One of them had travelled to Bangalore and the other to Delhi and one person from Mumbai is from Rajasthan.
Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner, said the new patients are close contacts of the first foreign Omicron returnnee to Mumbai and all were asymptomatic, following which they were hospitalised. "One index case has foreign travel history. These seven are close contacts of this case. All eight tested Omicron positive on Tuesday; later, seven tested negative in the follow up RT-PCR test and were home isolated,” he said.
Dr Shashank Joshi, who is a member of the state government’s Covid task force, said although Omicron cases are being reported in the city, it is still sporadic and in clusters; so, there is no need for panic. However, “many studies are needed understand the efficacy of our vaccines”. He said people have to continue wearing a face mask and maintain physical distance.
KEM Hospital dean Dr Hemant Deshmukh said the Omicron variant has the potential to cause the third wave. A study conducted in the UK, one of the three countries which is witnessing community spread of Omicron, there will be a further build up in January and continue till April.
The study, conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine experts who also advise the UK government, came up with a range of possible outcomes: the pessimistic scenario anticipates 34.2 million infections and 74,900 deaths between December 1 and April 1, while the optimistic one anticipates 20.9 million infections and 24,700 deaths.