India’s first case of coronavirus variant XE was detected in Mumbai on Wednesday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said. However, the Union Health Ministry has said that the variant is of a different genetic composition than XE.

A spokesperson from the ministry said the samples “were analysed in detail by genomic experts of INSACOG who have inferred that the genomic constitution of this variant does not correlate with the genomic picture of XE variant”.

INSACOG is a consortium of 10 laboratories that conducts genome sequencing of Covid-19 infections.

Dr Mangala Gomare, executive health officer in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, said that a civic body official had attended a meeting of the INSACOG where the matter was discussed. “We have been asked to send the sequencing data to the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics for further analysis to confirm XE variant,” she told

The Maharashtra government said that the patient was a woman who arrived in India from South Africa on February 10. It said that her Covid-19 test sample was sent to a laboratory in Mumbai’s Kasturba Hospital for genome sequencing.

The state government added that the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data confirmed the presence of the XE variant. However, it said that the INSACOG has decided to carry out another round of genomic sequencing at a national laboratory “for sure confirmation of XE variant”.

Found first in the United Kingdom on January 19, the XE variant is a mix – or recombinant – of the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 strains which could have emerged when a patient was infected with both at the same time. BA.2, also referred to as stealth Omicron, was deemed to be the most contagious of all the Covid-19 variants so far.

On March 29, the World Health Organization had said early tests suggest XE could be 10% more transmissible than BA.2, but the findings require more investigation.

Meanwhile, Gomare told that the patient who was found infected with the XE variant is a 50-year-old costume designer and is of South African origin. She was part of a movie crew.

“She tested positive in a random testing on March 2,” Gomare said. “She is asymptomatic and quarantined in Taj Lands hotel in Mumbai.”

Civic officials said that the patient has no comorbidities. She has also been administered the Comirnaty shot, an mRNA vaccine. She was tested on arrival in Mumbai, but the report had come negative.

The sub-variant was detected by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in Kasturba Hospital’s Genome Sequencing Lab, PTI reported.

The civic body also said that another patient was found infected with the Kappa variant.

Both the patients, however, have not shown any severe symptoms of the disease so far, PTI reported, citing a civic health official.

A total of 376 samples of patients were sent for sequencing. The Omicron variant was found in 228 out of the 230 samples from Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation told PTI.

On Tuesday, Mumbai recorded 56 coronavirus cases, taking the total infection count to 10,58,185. The toll in the city stood at 19,599.