A 32-year-old resident of Dombivli town of Thane district, who arrived from South Africa last week, tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival at the Mumbai airport, The Times of India reported on Monday.
It is not presently clear if he has been infected with the new Omicron variant of coronavirus. His blood sample has been sent for genome sequencing.
The passenger had travelled from Cape Town to Delhi via Dubai on November 24.
He gave a sample for coronavirus testing in Delhi, following which he was allowed to board a connecting flight to Mumbai, Pratibha Panpatil, chief medical officer of the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation told The Indian Express.
The test result of the sample that the passenger submitted in Delhi came positive, according to The Times of India.
According to the Centre’s November 11 guidelines for international passengers, they need to submit RT-PCR test samples on landing, after which they are allowed to leave the airport. Passengers, however, need to follow home quarantine for seven days, and get tested again on the eighth day.
“He [the passenger] is asymptomatic and had home quarantined himself,” Panpatil said. “Later, the corporation quarantined him in an institution.”
The Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation officials said that they have alerted airport authorities and that efforts were underway to locate the 32-year-old Dombivli resident’s co-passengers.
Between November 12 and November 26, the Mumbai airport registered 446 arrivals from “countries of concern” of which, 97 were residents of the city, according to The Indian Express.
Currently, travellers coming to India from the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel have been deemed “at risk” of being infected with the new strain.
Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s Additional Commissioner Suresh Kakani said that none of the Mumbai returnees had any symptoms, according to The Indian Express. “All are quarantined at home,” Kakani said. “We will run RT-PCR tests on them on Monday.”
The Maharashtra government is likely to make seven-day institutional quarantine compulsory for people arriving in Mumbai from or transiting through countries of concern, unidentified officials told the newspaper. The state government is also likely to re-introduce a rule requiring domestic passengers entering Maharashtra to carry a negative RT-PCR test.
South African scientists detected the B.1.1.529 variant, now known as the Omicron variant, last week and are working to understand its possible implications. The scientists have said that the variant has a “very unusual constellation” of mutations that may help the virus evade the body’s immune system.
On November 25, the Union government advised states and Union Territories to take note of the new variant and asked them to ensure rigorous screening of international travellers. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that the variant has “serious public health implications” for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel.
On November 26, the World Health Organization classified the Omicron variant as a “variant of concern”.
A “variant of concern” has the highest threat perception among other coronavirus variants because of its increased transmissibility, infectivity, or resistance to vaccines.
However, the WHO has said it is unclear whether the Omicron variant is more transmissible than others.