Mumbai airport to quarantine South Africa arrivals, conduct genome sequencing
Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar said passengers from SA would be quarantined and, if found positive, their genome sequencing would be done.
The genome test will be conducted at Mumbai airport.
The decision was taken over concern of a new coronavirus variant after passengers started arriving in India from SA.
Passengers arriving at Mumbai airport from South Africa, where the new coronavirus variant Omicron was detected, will be quarantined and, if found positive, their genome sequencing will be done, Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar said on Saturday, news agency ANI reported.
The decision for genome sequencing came after the World Health Organisation (WHO) labelled Omicron a “variant of concern”. Several nations, including the US and UK, have suspended flights to and from South Africa and five other African nations to curb the spread of the strain of the new variant, which is reportedly spreading very fast.
"There are concerns in Mumbai about the new variant of coronavirus. Genome sequencing of (positive) passengers coming from South Africa will be done. There is no restriction on outbound flights in any way. But this decision has been taken keeping in view past experience," Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar said.
Genome test for everyone coming from abroad
Considering the rise in fresh cases across the world, travellers arriving in Mumbai from abroad, irrespective of the country, will also have to undergo genome testing.
"There is an increased risk of COVID-19 in other nations, so those coming from abroad will have to undergo genome test. I request everyone to maintain social distancing and wear masks so that this new menace can be stopped," Ms Pednekar said.
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The new variant, Omicron, was first detected in Pretoria, South Africa this week and found in five other African countries - Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia and Zimbabwe. Outside Africa, the variant was detected in Hong Kong, Israel, and Belgium among the travellers.
The new variant of coronavirus is believed to have 50 mutations, including over 30 on the spike protein and 10 on the receptor-binding domain.
Researchers are still trying to confirm whether the new variant of the virus is more transmissible or lethal than earlier variants and if existing vaccines can protect against the strain.