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Omicron ‘suspects’ in Mumbai up to 14, samples sent for tests | Mumbai News – Times of India

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MUMBAI: A teenager who returned from Paris and a 41-year-old man who travelled to Barcelona, Spain, were on Friday found positive for Covid-19, taking the count of people who would be checked for the Omicron variant in the city to 14.
The number also includes four contacts of the positive cases. One more traveller tested positive in Mumbai, but the BMC hasn’t included him in the tally of 14 as he lives outside the city limits.

Civic officials said the 16-year-old had returned from Paris on November 25 while the man had returned on November 28. They were identified as part of the civic body’s surveillance program to trace and test passengers who have returned to the city from November 1 to November 30.
At the state level, the number of suspects has gone up to 30, according to the state government’s update based on figures available at 7 am on Friday. The daily Omicron update said that so far, only three people had tested positive at the airport, while the remaining 27 had been picked up as part of the surveillance (among travellers who returned between November 1 and 30).
“Of the 30 positive samples, 16 will undergo whole genome sequencing in BMC’s Kasturba Hospital in Chinchpokli and 14 at National Institute of Virology in Pune,” said state surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate.
In Mumbai, the 14 Omicron suspects have been shifted to hospitals and their samples have been sent for whole genome sequencing. “Contact tracing of these travellers is still going on,” said BMC executive health officer Dr Mangala Gomare. As per the Union government’s directive, almost 200 contacts – primary, secondary and tertiary – of each of these suspects will be tested.
A total of 3,136 passengers have come to the city from high-risk countries as of Friday. Dr Gomare said the BMC has tested 2,149 of these people and results of around 150 are available so far. Results of another 810 will be available soon.
The samples of each of these suspects are also being subjected to an RT-PCR screening test for the S gene, in BMC’s KEM Hospital, Parel.
MUMBAI BMC additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said that of the 11 international travellers (including one from outside the city) who have tested positive for Covid-19, eight have the S gene.
“We have detected the S gene in eight of them. It’s an indirect marker that they may not be infected with the Omicron variant (which doesn’t have the S gene). However, we will not rely on these completely and will wait for the genome sequencing report,” he said.
The BMC’s fifth genomic surveillance, which includes samples of some Omicron suspects, will be available on Sunday or Monday.
Dr Shashank Joshi, member of the state government’s task force, said while samples of all positive patients with a travel history to the high-risk countries are being sent for WGS (whole genome sequencing) at present, the test is too expensive to test all those who test positive.
“At present, WGS results will establish if Omicron is present in Maharashtra. It will in the course of time also tell us if the Delta variant, the dominant Covid variant in circulation, is replaced by the Omicron variant,” he added.

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