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As many as two more cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus were reported in Kerala on Friday, taking the state's tally to seven, said the state health department. 

Among the new patients is an elderly couple – a 68-year-old man and his 67-year-old wife – who arrived in Kochi from the UAE on 8 December. 

Since the UAE is not included in the list of high-risk nations, the couple were asked to go into self-quarantine. When they were diagnosed with Covid-19, their samples were sent to the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology for genetic testing and both tested positive for Omicron.

Officials said there are six in the husband's primary contact list and one in the wife's primary contact list. They said there were 54 passengers on board the flight and added that those who had been in close contact with them will be under surveillance.

The state had detected four new cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus on Thursday. 

The state had detected its first case of the variant on 12 December from Kochi district when a person who had returned from the UK tested positive. Among the four cases are the wife and mother-in-law of the patient.

Of the remaining two, one was a Thiruvananthapuram native who had returned from the UK and the other was an Ernakulam native who had just come back from Congo.

With this, Omicron was detected in three people in the state who came from non-high-risk countries.

Due to this, state health minister Veena George has asked all passengers to not visit public places or attend crowded functions for 14 days following arrival.

A new variant of Covid-19 was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on 25 November. As per the WHO, the first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November this year.

On 26 November, the WHO named the new Covid-19 variant B.1.1.529 as 'Omicron'. The WHO has classified Omicron as a 'variant of concern'.

To deal with this, several countries have imposed travel restrictions and local lockdown.

India has added several countries to the “at-risk" list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in the country, including post-arrival testing for infection.

Under the new norms, passengers coming from “at-risk" countries to six major Indian airports have to compulsorily pre-book for the on-arrival RT-PCR test from 20 December onwards.

The six airports are Delhi, Mumbai Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

According to the Union health ministry, “at-risk" countries include those in Europe including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand and Israel.

Also, two percent of the passengers arriving on flights from other countries are being tested randomly.

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