India on Thursday confirmed its first cases of the Omikron coronavirus in two people who had traveled abroad, and a top medical expert urged people to get vaccinated.
The Ministry of Health said that the two cases involved two men from the southern state of Karnataka who had come from abroad. It did not say which country or whether they were vaccinated.
All contacts of the two men have been traced and tested for the virus, health official Lav Agarwal said.
India has already classified several countries as “vulnerable” in response to the omicron variant, and travelers from those countries are being tested after arriving in India. In addition, India tests 2% of all other international travelers at random.
Genome sequencing is also performed to detect the variant. India has tested nearly 8,000 passengers since Wednesday.
Palram Bhargava, Chairman of the Indian Council of Medical Research, India’s largest medical research organization, urged people not to panic and vaccinate.
Increased vaccine uptake is the need of the hour. Don’t delay getting a full vaccination.
Dr. said. Some hesitation in the news of the new alternative may disappear. But this cannot be taken for granted.
Some Indian states have issued strict restrictions on international arrivals as precautionary measures, including mandatory COVID-19 tests for arrivals from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong.
Much remains unknown about the new alternative, including whether it is more contagious, as some health authorities suspect, whether it makes people more dangerous, and whether it could thwart a vaccine.
More than 56% of Indians have received at least one dose of the vaccine — 32% have been fully vaccinated and 24% have received a single dose, according to Our World In Data.
Associated Press reporters Krutika Pathy and Sheikh Saliq contributed to this report.
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