NEW DELHI: A community-based surveillance conducted by the government has found that all omicron variants – from BA.2 and XBB to BQ.1 and their respective sub-lineages — are circulating in the country. However, on the brighter side, the surveillance report suggests that the presence of these variants has not led to any increase in either mortality or transmission of Covid-1.
The surveillance involved whole genome sequencing of 324 Covid-19 positive samples referred from the Integrated Disease Surveillance Program (IDSP) sentinel sites – identified hospitals and laboratories spread across all states that are dealing with Covid-19 cases.
According to the health ministry, sequencing of the 324 positive samples lifted from the community revealed presence of all the Omicron variants. “No mortality or rise in transmission were reported in the areas where these variants were detected,” the ministry said. The ministry has also initiated random testing of international travelers arriving at various airports from December 24 last year. Since then, the ministry said, over 13.6 lakh international passengers arrived in India from 7786 flights at various airports out of which 29,113 randomly selected passengers were tested by RT-PCR.
“A total of 183 samples were found positive which were subsequently sent for whole genome sequencing. The sequencing of 50 samples revealed Omicron and Omicron sub-lineages including recombinant variants. XBB (11), BQ.1.1 (12) and BF7.4.1 (1) were the main variants detected in these samples of international passengers,” it added.
Dr NK Arora, the co-chair of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), told TOI recently that they are regularly conducting tests on sewage samples also and the trends so far are not suggestive of any increase in cases. “I would advise people not to panic about the detection of newer sub-lineages of Omicron. Caution is the key,” Dr Arora said.