The Bengaluru Police have filed a case against a South African citizen who had tested positive for Covid-19 but left India allegedly before his 14-day quarantine ended, The Hindu reported on Tuesday.
The man, Mahendra Chibabhai, was found to have been infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. He had been undergoing his quarantine period at Shangri La Hotel in central Bengaluru.
Naveen Kumar, a health officer with the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, filed the police complaint. The complainant has alleged that the hotel violated the Epidemic Diseases Act by letting the man leave quarantine.
The police have filed a first information report against Chibabhai and the management of the hotel. They have invoked the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases Act, as also sections 269 (negligent act to spread infection), 271 (disobedience of quarantine rules) and 114 (abetment to office) of the Indian Penal Code.
Chibabhai had tested positive for the coronavirus on his arrival at Bengaluru on November 20, The Indian Express reported. However, he left the city on November 27 after reportedly showing a negative test result from a private laboratory.
While State Revenue Minister R Ashok had stated that an investigation will be carried out against the laboratory, the FIR does not list anyone associated with the laboratory, SR Lab, as an accused person, according to The Hindu.
“We had mentioned the laboratory in our complaint,” Gaurav Gupta, Chief Civic Commissioner of Bengaluru said. “I will ask our officials to look into the issue.”
Unidentified officials told the newspaper that Indian officials are in touch with authorities in Dubai, where the man reportedly went after leaving India. The officials are also said to be in touch with authorities in South Africa.
The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa in November, and since then, has spread to many other countries.
According to the World Health Organization, the Omicron variant has about 45-52 mutations with 26-32 mutations in spike proteins. Spike proteins help a virus gain entry into the host cell. So, the higher number of mutations of the Omicron variant help the virus in a faster entry into human cells.
India’s first two cases of the Omicron variant had been detected in Karnataka on November 3. Since then, cases have been found in Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat and Rajasthan.