Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India], December 2 (ANI): As India reported its first two cases of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus detected in Karnataka, Kerala Health Minister Veena George on Thursday said that the state government has taken all possible steps in the context of the new COVID-19 variant as per the Central government's guidelines.
"We have taken all possible steps in the context of Omicron as per union government's guidelines. RT-PCR tests are done at airports. Travellers coming from high-risk countries have to take RT-PCR test on arrival," Veena George told ANI.
The minister further said that travellers also have to undergo seven-day quarantine and on the eighth day they have to take the RT-PCR test again following which they have to be in self-observation.
"2 per cent of passengers coming from non-high-risk countries would be chosen for RT-PCR test and be in self-observation for 14 days," Veena George said.
"Genomic surveillance is on, we are vigilant and have taken all probable steps," she added.
The Centre on Thursday informed that two people have tested positive for the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in Karnataka.
A 46-year-old male and a 66-year-old male were those who contracted the variant.
As many as three primary contacts and two secondary contacts of the 46-year-old Karnataka man who was found infected with the Omicron variant have also tested positive for the COVID-19.
Their samples have been sent for genome sequencing and the results are awaited.
The new COVID-19 variant was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on November 25. As per the WHO, the first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9 this year.
On November 26, the WHO named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as 'Omicron'. The WHO has classified Omicron as a 'variant of concern'.
Dozens of countries have imposed travel restrictions on the southern African nations since the mutation was discovered.
The new Omicron coronavirus variant has been confirmed in 23 countries and their number is expected to rise, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said.
India has also added several countries to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in the country, including post-arrival testing for infection.
Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry has informed that the Omicron variant can be five times more infectious than the other known variants of the novel coronavirus. (ANI)