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The Kochi district in Kerala on Sunday reported its first case of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, said state health minister Veena George.

“The concerned person had returned from UK to Kochi on 6 December. He had tested Covid positive on 8 December," said George. 

The patient is a native of Ernakulam who recently returned from the United Kingdom. His condition is stable. 

The minister said that there was no need to panic as the government was taking all necessary steps to curb spread of the new variant of the virus.

“High-risk passengers who were seated next to him have been informed. There is no need to panic. His condition is stable. His wife and mother have also tested positive for Covid. All of them have been shifted to isolation ward. Necessary precautions are being taken," she said. 

Apart from Kerala, till now, Omicron has been detected in Maharashtra (18), Rajasthan (9), Karnataka (3), Andhra Pradesh (1), Delhi (2), Chandigarh (1).

Earlier in the day, a 40-year-old man from Nagpur had tested positive for the new strain after returning from a country in West Africa. 

Chandigarh also reported its first case of Omicron on Sunday after swab samples of a fully vaccinated 20-year-old male passenger from Italy, revealed the presence of the new variant.

Prior to that, Andhra Pradesh detected its first case of Omicron and Karnataka reported its third case.

The first two cases were reported in Karnataka last week, where a 66-year-old South African flyer and a 46-year-old Bengaluru doctor with no travel history had tested positive.

Following that on 4 December, a 72-year-old NRI from Gujarat and a 33-year-old man from Maharashtra's Thane tested positive for the new strain.

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.

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