Representative image of a researcher inside a lab in Pune. Photo: Reuters/Euan Rocha
New Delhi: Seven persons from the Pune district have been confirmed to have been infected by the omicron variant of the coronavirus, taking the tally of confirmed cases of the new variant in the country to 12.
According to news agency PTI, among the seven are a 44-year-old Nigerian woman of Indian origin and her two daughters who came from Lagos on November 24. They came to meet the former’s brother in the Pune’s adjoining Pimpri Chinchwad area. Her brother and his two daughters have also tested positive for the variant, officials said.
According to a press release issued by Maharashtra health authorities, the Nigerian woman has mild symptoms and the other five have no symptoms at all. Out of the six people in this cluster, three are under 18 years of age and therefore have not taken any vaccine. The three adults have taken both doses of vaccine – while two have taken Covishield, the other person has taken Covaxin.
The seventh person is a 47-year-old man from Pune who returned from Finland in the last week of November. He has taken both doses of the Covishield vaccine and is completely stable without any symptoms, the press release said.
With these cases, the total number of confirmed Omicron cases in Maharashtra has gone up to eight.
On Thursday, the government had confirmed that two persons in Bengaluru – one a native and another who is a South African national – were the first two confirmed cases of infection by the omicron variant. Subsequently, one case was identified in Maharashtra’s Thane district, followed by another in Gujarat’s Jamnagar and one more in Delhi.
The new variant has caused a flutter globally after scientists reported that it has more mutations than any variant before. While it is yet unknown if these mutations imply that omicron is more transmissible or can escape immunity, the fact that close to 30 mutations have been observed on the spike protein – which existing vaccines train the body to target – has heightened fears.
The World Health Organisation has cautioned against border shutdowns and complete lockdowns. Instead, continuing to follow precautionary measures such as mask-wearing and ramping up the global pace of vaccination will be better ways to combat the variant, the UN body has said.