Two fully vaccinated persons who returned from abroad last month have tested positive for the new Omicron strain of coronavirus in Mumbai, the first cases of the variant found in the metropolis, the civic body said on Monday, taking the number of such infections in Maharashtra to 10.
A man who returned from South Africa and his close contact who came from the US were found infected with the Omicron strain, according to a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) release.
The release said the 37-year-old man, who landed in Mumbai from South Africa on November 25, was found infected with Omicron along with one of his contacts -- a 36-year-old female friend who arrived in the city from the US the same day.
These are the first two cases of Omicron from Mumbai and the third one from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). Earlier, a 33-year-old traveller who had returned to Dombivli in adjoining Thane district from South Africa had tested positive for the new variant.
The Mumbai man tested positive for COVID-19 on November 29 and his female friend the next day, the BMC said.
The release said both of them were fully vaccinated.
After testing positive for COVID-19, they were admitted at BMC-run Seven Hills Hospital in suburban Mumbai and they are asymptomatic, it said.
Their swab samples were sent for testing at the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) last week and reports received on Monday confirmed they were infected with Omicron, the release said.
The BMC said it carried out COVID-19 tests on all the close contacts of the two travellers, but none of them tested positive for the infection.
The civic body has been carrying out COVID-19 tests on international travellers arriving in Mumbai since November 1.
So far, 16 travellers -- 12 males and four females -- have tested positive for COVID-19, the release said.
Swab samples of all of them were sent for genome sequencing and one of them (37-year-old returnee from South Africa) was found infected with Omicron, the civic body said.
Similarly, nine close contacts of the travellers -- four males and five females -- tested positive COVID-19 and one of them (South Africa returnee's female friend) was found infected with the new variant, the release stated.
According to the release, a total of 4,480 passengers have arrived in Mumbai from "at-risk" countries till December 5.
Highlighting that mutation in a virus is a natural phenomenon, the civic body said citizens should do not panic and appealed to them to follow COVID-19-appropriate behaviour.
Earlier, seven persons, including a non-resident Indian (NRI) woman and her two daughters from Nigeria, had tested positive for the Omicron variant of coronavirus in Pune district.
With these seven patients from Pune and three from the MMR, Maharashtra has now reported 10 cases of the new variant.
On November 26, the World Health Organisation (WHO) named the COVID-19 virus variant detected in South Africa and some other countries as Omicron.
The WHO has classified the Omicron variant as a 'Variant of Concern'.
Health experts have expressed possibilities that owing to the genetic modification in the virus, it may possess some specific characteristics.
While the transmissibility of infection seems to have increased because of the new variant, there is still not enough clarity on whether or not it will cause severe disease and whether it will evade immunity, the WHO said.