Omicron scare in Odisha: 246 foreign returnees test COVID +ve; Genome sequencing result soon

Bhubaneswar: Amid concern over the Omicron variant of COVID-19, as many as 246 foreign returnees have tested positive for the virus in Odisha, recently.

Informing about it, Ajay Parida, Director, ILS, Bhubaneswar said the institute has received 246 COVID-19 positive samples of foreign returnees from various districts after November 29, following the detection of the Omicron variant.

The samples will undergo genome sequencing for ascertaining the presence of Omicron variant. The results of the genome sequencing will be out by Thursday-Friday, he said.

Parida further said that the Odisha Government has taken proactive steps for testing and tracking in order the avoid the possibility of 3rd wave of COVID-19.

In the month of November, a total of 141 COVID-19 positive samples of foreign returnees in Odisha underwent genome sequencing. Fortunately, none of those had presence of Omicron variant of the virus, he said.

Any COVID-19 positive sample having CT value below than 28 are undergoing genome sequencing, he added.

Current knowledge about Omicron 

Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available.

Transmissibility: It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta. The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors.

Severity of disease: It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta.  Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron.  There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants.  Initial reported infections were among university students—younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease—but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks.  All variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key.

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