India's Kerala state reports first Omicron case

The 39-year-old man, who tested negative on arrival from the UK, is said to be in stable condition

Christmas decorations at a mall in Kochi, Kerala. The southern Indian state reported its first Omicron infection on December 12, 2021. AP Photo

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The southern Indian state of Kerala has detected its first Omicron case in a man who travelled from the UK, raising the country's tally of infections with the new coronavirus variant to 38.

The Ernakulam district resident, 39, tested positive for the coronavirus strain on Sunday, state Health Minister Veena George said in a video posted on her Facebook page.

He arrived with his wife in Kochi on December 6 and received a negative result after undergoing mandatory airport testing for passengers from high-risk countries.

He was tested again after developing slight symptoms two days later. His wife and mother-in-law have also tested positive but it has not been confirmed whether they have the Omicron strain.

“All of them have been shifted to an isolation ward. Necessary precautions are being taken,” Ms George said. “There is no need to panic, his condition is stable."

Ms George said all 149 passengers on the flight were alerted and the high-risk passengers seated next to the patient have been asked to quarantine themselves and take Covid tests.

A state health official said steps were being taken to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant, which is considered highly transmissible and better able to overcome immunity from vaccines than the Delta variant that accounts for most cases worldwide.

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We are tracing all the people who came in contact with the passenger.
Dr Raju VR, director of Kerala health services

“There is no need to worry as we are well equipped. We are detecting the virus at an early stage. We are tracing all the people who came in contact with the passenger," Dr Raju VR, director of health services, told The National.

"All guidelines are being followed. Those who are coming from abroad are being tested at the airport and if positive, are transferred to special wards in hospitals."

The Omicron infection was one of the 3,777 Covid-19 cases reported in Kerala on Sunday, taking the state’s total caseload to about 5.19 million since the pandemic broke last year. More than 42,000 of the cases resulted in death.

India's first Omicron infections were reported in the southern state of Karnataka on December 2, when two people tested positive in Bengaluru city. The western state of Maharashtra accounts for 18 of the 38 confirmed cases so far.

Updated: December 13th 2021, 11:25 AM