PGI advice: Get tested in case of respiratory symptoms

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PGI advice: Get tested in case of respiratory symptoms

Amid speculation around a new Covid variant, Omicron, PGI community health experts have advised that patients with respiratory symptoms like cough, cold and difficulty in breathing should get themselves tested for Covid-19 and isolate themselves till the reports are available.

Eight community contacts of the wife of a 36-year-old, who returned from South Africa, tested negative for Covid-19 at the GMCH-32 on Tuesday. Four high-risk (household) contacts of the South Africa returnee residing in Sector 36 were tested on Monday. The reports of two of them were positive. The returnee and the two positives contacts were shifted to an institutional quarantine (GMCH-32). Samples of the SA returnee and his two positive contacts have been sent for whole genome sequencing to the NCDC, Delhi. It usually takes a minimum of two weeks to get results of genome sequencing. TNS

Prof PVM Lakshmi from the Department of Community Medicine and Public Health said, “There is still uncertainty related to transmissibility, immune escape potential (from infection and vaccine-induced immunity), severity of disease and response to available countermeasures like diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics. At present, there is no evidence of importation and transmission of the Omicron in the Indian subcontinent. However, given its immune escape potential and possible transmissibility advantage as compared to Delta (as indicated by the rapid surge in South Africa), likelihood of potential introduction and subsequent transmission of Omicron is high and we need to be alert.”

Prof Mini P Singh, professor and nodal officer, Covid-19 testing at PGI, informed that the existing diagnostic tests, including the real time PCR and rapid antigen, could pick up this new variant.

The emergence of Omicron (B.1.1.529), a new variant of concern of SARS-CoV-2, has attracted worldwide attention. This variant is believed to have originated in South Africa in an immune-compromised patient. Since then it has been detected in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, Israel and some European countries.

PGI experts advised tricity residents to continue following Covid-appropriate behaviour and ensure vaccination of all eligible individuals. Mass gatherings and non-essential travel should be strictly avoided.

Dr Lakshmi highlighted that enhanced surveillance would be important to detect the early warning signs and prompt initiation of public health and social measures.

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