Powered by

India restarts random Covid tests for international passengers as 4 cases of Omicron BF.7 variant detected

BF.7 strain is behind the sudden surge in Covid-19 cases in China

A woman wearing a face mask at Khan Market in New Delhi | PTI A woman wearing a face mask at Khan Market in New Delhi | PTI

The government on Wednesday restarted the random sampling of international passengers at airports across the country in the wake of a sudden surge in Covid-19 cases in several countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, France and the United States. According to officials, India has reported at least four cases of Omicron subvariant BF.7, the strain behind the sudden surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in China, in the last six months.

The BF.7 variants were detected in July, September and November. Three cases were reported from Gujarat and one from Odisha.

"There are currently ten different variants of Covid-19 in the country, with the latest variant being BF.7. At present various variants of Omicron are spreading in the country and the Delta variant can still be seen in the country," a source told news agency ANI.

In the latest case, a woman from Gujarat with travel history to the United States was found BF.7 variant positive on November 18. She recovered after home isolation and her condition is normal.

The BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5 and has the strongest infection ability since it is highly transmissible, has a shorter incubation period, and has a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated. It has already been detected in several other countries, including the US, the UK and European nations such as Belgium, Germany, France and Denmark.

Meanwhile, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya reviewed the Covid-19 situation in the country on Wednesday and asked people to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, including wearing masks in crowded places, and get vaccinated.

"Covid is not over yet. I have directed all concerned to be alert and strengthen surveillance. We are prepared to manage any situation," he said.

On Tuesday, the health ministry had urged all states and Union territories to ramp up the whole genome sequencing of positive samples for timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country.

The states have been asked to ensure that samples of all positive cases are sent to the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories on a daily basis.

According to reports, several Chinese cities are currently hit by the highly transmissible Omicron strains mainly BA.5.2 and BF.7. Capital Beijing is experiencing a massive wave of the BF.7 variant with over 70 per cent of the city's population hit by the virus.

Hospitals in Beijing are facing staff shortages and an influx of patients ever since the government abandoned its stringent anti-virus controls earlier this month following widespread protests.

📣 The Week is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@TheWeekmagazine) and stay updated with the latest headlines