Mumbai: One flier and three contacts were found Covid-positive on Friday, according to the data provided by the health department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The number of fliers who tested positive in Mumbai has now risen to 14, of whom four have been detected through contact tracing. All of them are institutionally quarantined at the SevenHills hospital and are asymptomatic.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said, “The patients don’t have any symptoms. We have detected S-gene target failure, but will wait for genome sequencing results to be sure,” he said.
Maharashtra is carrying out dual surveillance, having been screening travellers at the airport since midnight of November 30 and tracing and testing all those who have returned from overseas since November 1.
A member of the state’s Covid taskforce member said that a complete RT-PCR report for Covid included that of the ‘N’ , ‘S’ , ‘E’ and ‘ORF’ genes.
“If the ‘S’ gene is absent in a person and the other genes are positive, it is an indirect way to know that the Omicron variant may be present in them even without conducting genome sequencing. Unfortunately, not all laboratories conducting RT-PCR tests are checking for the ‘S’ gene,” he said.
“A directive may soon come for all laboratories to additionally check for the ‘S’ gene in a sample. Deletion of the ‘S’ gene will red-flag Omicron ahead of genome sequencing,” said the task force member.
Dr Rahul Pandit, a member of the state’s Covid taskforce and also the national Covid taskforce, said, with Omicron being stated as a cause for concern across the world, maintaining caution was instrumental. “The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution (TAG-VE) is continuously monitoring the evolution of the virus. Based on this, TAG-VE has advised WHO to designate Omicron as a virus of concern and will communicate new findings with the member states and public,” said Dr Pandit, Director (Critical Care), in Fortis Hospitals, Mumbai.