Gujarat on Saturday said it has detected a case of coronavirus variant XE, reported The Indian Express.

Additional Chief Secretary Manoj Aggarwal said that the variant was found in a 67-year-old man who had travelled to Vadodara from Mumbai. The man had tested positive for the coronavirus disease on March 12.

“Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre detected the XE variant in the patient 12 days ago,” Aggarwal said. “The sample was sent for confirmation as per INSACOG [Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium] guidelines to a Kolkata laboratory. The confirmation report of the XE variant was received Friday night. We are getting more details and trying to trace his close contacts.”

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

Vadodara Medical Officer Dr Devesh Patel told The Indian Express that the patient had developed symptoms including fever when he was staying with his wife at a hotel in the city.

Patel said that the couple had returned to Mumbai after their Covid-19 results came back positive and were under home quarantine there.

“He did not meet anyone in Vadodara,” the official added.

On Wednesday, a case of the XE variant was detected in Mumbai, according to the city’s civic body, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. However, the Union Health Ministry had said that the variant is of a different genetic composition than XE.

A spokesperson from the ministry had 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”.

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. The variant could have emerged when a patient was infected with both strains 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.

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