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India has detected two cases of Omicron variant of the coronavirus until now, said Lav Agarwal, the joint secretary of Union health ministry, on Thursday during a press briefing. 

Both the cases have been reported in Karnataka with the patients being two men aged 66 and 46. "All primary, secondary contacts of both of them have been traced and are being tested," said the government.

“The patients are experiencing mild symptoms. In all such cases in the country and across the world so far, no severe symptom has been noted. WHO has said that its emerging evidence is being studied," it added. 

However, Agarwal informed that the Omicron variant can be five times more infectious than the other known variants of the novel coronavirus. "Around 29 countries have reported 373 cases of Omicron Variant so far," he added.

Further, the health official asked people to not panic. "Awareness is absolutely essential and everybody should follow Coivd-appropriate behaviour, and avoid gatherings," he said, adding that increased Covid-19 vaccine uptake was the need of the hour.

"Do not delay in getting fully vaccinated," he said.

Agarwal also informed that the South East Asian region, including India, has only 3.1% of the world's Covid-19 cases in the last week.

About vaccine coverage, the official said that 84.3% of the adult population in India got the first dose while 49% got the second dose.

Kerala and Maharashtra have over 10,000 active Covid cases while nine states and Union Territories have active cases between 1,000 and 10,000. The weekly Covid positivity rate was over 10% in 15 districts and between 5 and 10% in 18 districts, the official said.

The new potentially more contagious B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on 24 November and has been designated as a "Variant of Concern" by the global body.

A “variant of concern" is the WHO's top category of worrying Covid-19 variants.

 

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