Karnataka To Investigate How South African Traveler With Omicron Variant Left India


New Delhi: The Karnataka government has ordered an inquiry after a South African national left India within seven days of testing positive for the Omicron variant of COVID-19 by obtaining a negative test report from a private lab.

Amid reports that at least 10 South African travelers have gone untraceable after reaching Bengaluru, the government directed officials to look into it, trace them immediately and get them tested, reported news agency PTI.

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“The person (66-year-old) had isolated at a hotel and he has gone from there (outside the country). First his (COVID test) report came positive and then re-test came negative. Whether there was any mishandling, whether the lab tests were accurate or was there any wrong doing, the police commissioner has been directed to investigate this,” Revenue Minister R Ashoka said, as quoted by PTI.

The investigation into the 66-year-old’s test has been ordered after questions were raised on how the traveler managed to get a negative report within three days after testing positive for COVID on arrival. He was reportedly attending some official meeting, and left India even as his genomic sequencing reports were awaited.

After a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, Revenue Minister R Ashok told reporters the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Commissioner has been directed to file a case at the city’s High Ground Police Station in this regard.

“Two reports – one positive and one negative – is doubtful. So the lab must be investigated. So we have asked the police commissioner to investigate immediately in coordination with the health department,” he informed.

As per PTI, officials on Thursday said that the South African national had come to Bengaluru on November 20 and his samples were collected at the airport where he was tested COVID positive. His samples were then sent for genome sequencing, the reports of which came on Thursday, confirming he was infected by Omicron.

The person was isolated in a hotel, and subsequently underwent a test separately (self-investigation) at another laboratory (private lab on Nov 23), during which his reports came out negative, the officials had said. He then left for Dubai on November 27.

It was informed that all his 24 primary contacts and 240 secondary contacts had tested negative.

Meanwhile, when asked about reports that 10 South African travelers have gone untraceable, Ashoka responded saying: “It has come out in the media that ten people are untraceable. Officials have been directed to look into it, trace them by tonight and get them tested.”

Meanwhile, Health Minister K Sudhakar has stated that he has no official information about the reports on 10 travelers being untraceable. In case they have not been traced, the police are efficient enough to find them as in the past, he said, reported PTI.

“But my appeal is that no one should switch off their mobiles and go untraceable. It is not the right way. They should behave responsibly,” the state Health Minister stressed.

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New COVID Measures In Karnataka

In wake of Omicron cases, the Karnataka government on Friday announced certain preventive measures that include compulsory two dose vaccination for entering malls, cinema halls or theaters, and for parents of school or college going students.

Other measures announced by the state government involve intensifying screening of international passengers at airports, asking educational institutions to postpone their public events, and limiting gatherings, meetings, conferences to 500 people.

International travelers arriving in the state will be tested at the airports only after their reports come out negative, they will be allowed to go out.

According to the government order, parents of children below 18 years who are going to school or college, should be compulsorily vaccinated with two doses of COVID vaccine. Cultural activities or fests and functions in all educational institutions should be postponed till January 15, 2022, the order stated.

All gatherings, meetings, conferences, etc, should strictly limit the number of participants to 500 people only and COVID appropriate behavior shall be strictly enforced during the event. The responsibility to enforce the same, lies with the organisers.

Compulsory testing of health workers, old persons above 65 years and persons with comorbidities will be undertaken by the Government, it informed.

Noting that government servants shall be vaccinated with two doses of COVID- 19 vaccine, the order stressed that wearing face masks is an essential preventive measure.

In response to a question, the state Revenue Minister informed that fresh SOP or guidelines will be issued for Christmas and New Year celebrations after discussing with CM Bommai.

(With Agency Inputs)

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