Two international air travellers, including a child, from 'at risk' nations have tested positive for COVID-19 on their arrival in Tamil Nadu early this morning. The state government, however, has denied reports that they were cases of Omicron.
The variant of the coronavirus will only be identified after the test results are out, state Health Minister Ma Subramanian said, as he urged social media users to be careful about opining on the "sensitive issue."
"We will be transparent in announcing the results of the tests as it would only help in creating more public awareness against the pandemic," the minister was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
While one of the passengers arrived from Singapore, the child had come along with family from the UK, the minister said, adding that their samples have been sent for genome sequencing to identify the variant of the coronavirus they have been infected with.
Both the UK and Singapore are high risk countries.
"The passenger from Singapore arrived at Tiruchirappally at 3.30 AM (on Friday). He tested positive and has been shifted to the local medical college where he has been quarantined. His sample will undergo genome sequencing and we have a facility here for this purpose. However, it will also be sent to a lab in Bengaluru and only after that result would we come to know if he is infected with Omicron," he said.
"He is only Covid positive as of now," the minister said without divulging much details about the second case.
The co-passengers seated in the front and rear rows of the flights in which these two travelled and the flight crew have also been tested, he said.
Omicron has been designated a 'variant of concern' by the World Health Organisation, or WHO. It is believed to have over 50 mutations, including over 30 on the spike protein, which make it significantly more infectious than the Delta variant.
India reported its first two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Thursday but the government said it had no immediate plan to authorise booster vaccine shots despite demands from lawmakers.
With additional inputs from PTI