Omicron Variant BF.7 Driving Covid Cases In China Found In Several Samples Of International Flyers India Mandaviya

Omicron sub-variant BF.7, responsible for the surge in coronavirus cases in China, has been found in several of the 200 Covid samples of international passengers, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Wednesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a book launch at the Constitution Club in Delhi, Mandaviya said more than 15 lakh international air passengers were screened so far and 200 of them tested positive for Covid-19, PTI reported.

Mandaviya, however, said the Covid vaccines in India were effective enough to fight the BF.7 variant.

READ | No New Coronavirus Variants In India, No Possibility Of Surge Next Week: Govt Covid Panel

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The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has initiated random testing of international travellers arriving at various airports since December 24, 2022.

“Keeping in view the spread of Covid fourth wave in the world, we are tracing every port. So far 8,700 flights have been traced. Over 15 lakh passengers have been traced and out of them over 200 passengers have been detected as Covid positive,” ANI quoted the Union Health Minister as saying.

“All of them were sent for isolation and their samples were sent for genome sequencing. Through genome sequencing, we have found Covid BF.7 variant in some passengers. However, our vaccine is effective enough to fight BF.7 variant. We’re taking all necessary measures,” he further said.

Last week, the Health Ministry said sentinel sequencing of 324 Covid positive samples lifted from the community between December 29 and January 7 had revealed the presence of all the Omicron variants, such as BA.2 and its sub-lineages including BA.2.75, XBB(37), BQ.1 and BQ.1.1(5), among others.

No mortality or rise in transmission was reported in the areas where these variants were detected, the ministry had said in a statement.

The Centre has said that there was no need to panic on the Covid situation in India, but it was keeping a close watch on European, North American and East Asian countries.

Chairman of COVID working group NK Arora told news agency ANI, “The virus is very much here, but it is not intensely circulating in the country. We have stepped up our genomic surveillance and started airport screening. Whatever we have found is not that we are getting any new variants.”

He said that sewage sampling had also been done, but no new variant had been found and “there is no possibility of a surge in the coming week”.

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