Kerala is on alert for Omicron after four new cases were reported on Wednesday to take the state’s tally to five. The Health Department will test samples of the victims’ close contacts today. If they return a positive result, the samples will be sent for genome sequencing.
The Health Department will also strengthen the alert in Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam, where the victims are from, while a central team will hold talks with officials to gauge the situation.
The state detected its first Omicron case on December 12 in Kochi district after a UK-returnee tested positive. Health Minister Veena George said his wife and mother-in-law were among the four new cases, Press Trust of India reported.
Of the other two, one is a Thiruvananthapuram resident who had returned from the UK and the other is a native of Ernakulam who returned from Congo.
George said the flight details of these patients were being collected and their close contacts identified. She also advised everyone to exercise extreme caution, Press Trust of India reported.
On Wednesday, Kerala reported 4,006 new Covid-19 cases to take the state’s cumulative tally to 5,204,422. The official fatality figure currently stands at 43,626, with 282 deaths added on Wednesday.
The active caseload, which has been dropping steadily, stood at 35, 234 on Wednesday. The Health Department said 7.8% of total active cases were admitted in hospitals. ICU occupancy in public and private hospitals was 546, while patients requiring ventilator support was at 223.
Apart from Kerala, Omicron cases have now been detected in Maharashtra (32), Karnataka (3), Rajasthan (17), Telangana (2), Gujarat (4), Delhi (10), and West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Chandigarh with one each. Of Maharashtra’s 32 cases, 25 have already been discharged after testing negative.
The Omicron variant, first reported from South Africa and capable of spreading much faster than the Delta variant, has become the dominant strain in several parts of the world.