Just hours after the Mumbai civic officials announced that a case of the highly transmissible XE variant has been found in the city, government sources have denied reports, saying that scientific evidence so far does not indicate it to be so, PTI reported. 

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday said that a woman who had arrived in the city from South Africa in February-end and tested positive for COVID-19 in March was infected with the XE variant.

Mangala Gomare, executive health officer of the BMC, told PTI that the woman tested positive for coronavirus infection three weeks after arriving.

“She was asymptomatic and tested negative the next day,” Gomare said.

Also Read | German gets 90 COVID-19 vaccine doses to sell forged passes

The woman, who is a costume designer, was a member of a film shooting crew. She arrived from South Africa on February 10, 2022.

“She did not have any travel history prior to that. She had been vaccinated with both doses of the COMIRNATY vaccine,” the official said, adding that she suffered from no co-morbidities.

Upon arrival, she tested negative for COVID-19, but on March 2, she tested positive during routine testing. In the subsequent test, she tested negative. She had been quarantined in a hotel during this period.

However, hours later, official sources denied reports saying, “Present evidence do not yet indicate that it is a case of XE variant.”

“Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) experts examined the FastQ files of the sample and have inferred that the genomic composition of this variant which infected the Mumbai woman does not correspond with the genomic composition of the XE variant,” an official source said.

“INSACOG is conducting a genomic analysis of the case after a follow-up declared XE positive case of COVID-19 in Mumbai,” the official source stated.

XE variant appears to be10% more transmissible than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron, which has so far been deemed to be the most contagious of all the COVID-19 variants. The XE variant is a mutation of the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains, referred to as a “recombinant”.