Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope has said that the latest mutation of coronavirus (Omicron), which was first detected in South Africa, has a higher rate of transmissibility. However, the symptoms caused by it remain mild. “The Omicron variant of coronavirus has a higher transmissibility rate but its symptoms are mild, ” he said on Saturday.
He also claimed that the Omicron variant has not increased the fatality rate so far. “No one in South Africa, infected with the Omicron variant, has been put on oxygen. It has not increased the fatality rate so far,” the minister said.
Tope appealed to people to not panic over the emergence of the new variant and asked people to continue to follow face masks and social distancing mandates. He also asked unvaccinated people to get vaccinated.
The statement comes after a 33-year-old man from Kalyan-Dombivli municipal area near Mumbai who had returned from South Africa via Dubai, was confirmed to be infected with Omicron variant of the coronavirus, on Saturday. The man, reported to be a marine engineer, was unvaccinated.
On Saturday, a 72-year-old NRI man from Gujarat was also found to be infected with the new strain. As of now, four people in total have tested positive for the Omicron.
The country’s first two cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 were reported on Thursday in Karnataka –in a 66-year-old South African flyer, and a 46-year-old Bengaluru doctor with no travel history. Both men were fully vaccinated.
The Omicron strain has been classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization (WHO).