Omicron: Over 100 foreign returnees go untraceable in Maharashtra
As many as 109 of 295 people who had recently returned from abroad are currently untraceable in Thane district, Maharashtra, officials said. The news comes amid fears over the new Omicron variant of coronavirus. India has reported a total of 23 Omicron cases and Maharashtra tops the state-wise tally with 10 cases. Here are more details on this.
Why does this story matter?
The development is worrying as it indicates non-compliance of quarantine measures as enforced by the administration. Omicron is said to be the most heavily mutated strain of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Early data suggests it spreads faster, but the illness may be mild. Cases of the variant have been detected in at least 48 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
'Mobiles switched off, homes locked'
The mobile phones of some of the foreign returnees are switched off, Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation chief Vijay Suryavanshi told PTI. Addresses provided by many of them were found to be locked, he said. It is the "duty of housing society members to ensure norms are not violated," he added. The Dombivli area has reported one Omicron case so far.
India reports 23 Omicron cases
On Monday, India reported two more cases of the Omicron variant taking the nationwide tally to 23. The fresh cases were detected in Maharashtra's capital Mumbai—the first such infections in the city of over two crore people. Other Indian states where Omicron cases have been detected include Rajasthan (nine), Karnataka (two), Gujarat (one), and Delhi (one).
What else do we know about Omicron?
Omicron has some 50 mutations including over 30 in its key spike protein alone. It was first detected in South Africa and has since been reported across the world. It has not been linked to severe disease or death as yet. Scientists around the world are racing to determine how effective the existing COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are against the strain.
Will there be a third wave?
Amid the Omicron scare, IIT-Kanpur professor Manindra Agrawal said on Twitter that a third wave of coronavirus infections will likely peak in India around January-February 2022. Daily cases could reach up to 1.5 lakh during that wave, he said. But the fresh outbreak is expected to be milder, according to Agrawal. "We need to wait for more data to be sure," he added.