Gautam Budh Nagar on alert after detection of new Covid-19 variant ‘Omicron’

The Gautam Budh Nagar health department is keeping a tab on people returning to Noida and Greater Noida from abroad and conducting Covid-19 tests on them, said officials

The Gautam Budh Nagar health department is on alert after a new variant of coronavirus -- Omicron -- has been detected in several foreign countries, said officials on Sunday. The health department is keeping a tab on people returning to Noida and Greater Noida from abroad and conducting Covid-19 tests on them.

At present, there are 16 active cases in the district, with three fresh cases and one discharge reported in the past 24 hours, till Saturday evening. Total 467 deaths have been reported, and 62,930 people have been cured in Gautam Budh Nagar since its outbreak in March 2020.

Dr Sunil Sharma, chief medical officer (CMO), Gautam Budh Nagar, said that the Omicron variant -- which has a high infection rate -- is a matter of concern . “We held two video conference meetings on Saturday from the health department office in Lucknow. The district administration also held a meeting about the preparedness to tackle this new variant. Doctors and medical staff have been sensitised, and put on alert. We are awaiting a detailed guideline from Lucknow by Monday,” Sharma said.

The Omicron variant, identified first in South Africa on November 24 (on Wednesday), and later detected in Europe and Asia, is raising concern among the people, given the number of about 30 mutations. The district health department said “no Covid-19 case of this variant has been reported in Gautam Budh Nagar or in Uttar Pradesh so far”.

Sharma said that several Noida residents have recently returned from abroad trips. “Some foreign nationals have also visited Noida recently. The new variant may spread through these people... The health department will put such people on surveillance, and Covid tests will be conducted on them if they develop symptoms for the same. If a person tests Covid positive, the patient’s test for Omicron variant will also be performed,” he added.

Alok Singh, a resident of Greater Noida’s Sector Alpha 1, said that the new Covid-19 variant is creating a psychological and emotional impact on the people. “Normalcy was returning in most of the places, and businesses were also almost resuming. However, these new variants have started creating an uncertain fear among the people... like what would happen if restrictions are imposed again,” Singh said.

Dr NK Sharma, former president of India Medical Association (IMA), Noida chapter, said that people should continue to maintain social distance, wash hands on regular intervals, and restrict their movement to prevent the spread of the virus. “People should not go to markets or public places unnecessarily. We can beat this problem only if we make suitable changes in our lifestyle,” he said.

Pankaj Dwivedi

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