Two people who had contracted the strain of the coronavirus causing a surge in COVID-19 cases in China had been detected in Gujarat over two months ago and recovered at home, without needing hospitalisation, officials told NDTV on Wednesday.
“The patients were infected with BF 7 and BF 12 form of Omicron variant were reported in October-Nov 2022. These two patients were treated in home isolation. They have fully recovered now,” a health department official told NDTV, requesting not to be named.
One of the patients, a 61-year-old woman in Vadodara, had arrived from the US on September 11, and tested positive for COVID-19 on September 18, the official said, adding she had taken three doses of the Pfizer vaccination and was in home isolation.
“Her sample had been sent for genome sequencing to Gandhinagar, and the genome-sequencing result for the BF.7 variant arrived today. The patient is in good health and, as per the guidelines, three of her close contacts were tested during the time she was COVID-19 positive. The close contacts had tested negative for COVID-19,” the official said.
This comes after the central government asked states to keep a sharp lookout for any new variants of the coronavirus and urged people to wear masks in crowded areas, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases in China and other parts of the globe.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya met senior government officials on Wednesday to discuss the matter, with all those present wearing masks – a practice that has not been mandatory in most parts of the country for several months.
“COVID is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance,” he said on Twitter. “We are prepared to manage any situation.”
China has seen a surge in infections after ending strict restrictions, while data from the World Health Organization shows infections have risen in countries like Japan, South Korea and the United States in recent days.
The Indian government has asked all states to ensure that samples of positive cases are sent to the country’s 54 designated genome sequencing laboratories.
“Such an exercise will enable timely detection of newer variants if any,” Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote in a letter to the states on Tuesday.
With more than 4.4 crore COVID-19 cases to date, India has reported the most in the world after the United States. Its number of confirmed infections has, however, fallen sharply in the past few months, with about 1,200 cases being reported every week at present.