Health

India confirms omicron variant cases, says get the shot now

India has confirmed its first two cases of the omicron coronavirus variant

The Health Ministry said the cases involved two men in southern Karnataka state who came from abroad. It did not say which country, or if they were vaccinated.

Health official Lav Agarwal said all contacts of the two men have been traced and tested for the virus.

India has already classified several countries as “at risk” in response to the omicron variant, and travelers from those countries are being tested after they arrive in India. In addition, India is testing 2% of all other international travelers randomly.

Genome sequencing is also being done to detect the variant. India has tested nearly 8,000 passengers since Wednesday.

Balram Bhargava, head of the Indian Council of Medical Research, India’s top medical research organization, urged people not to panic and get vaccinated.

“Increased vaccine uptake is the need of the hour. Don’t delay in getting fully vaccinated,” he said.

Some Indian states have issued strict restrictions on international arrivals as precautionary measures, including mandatory COVID-19 tests for those coming from South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong.

More than 56% of Indians have received at least one vaccine dose — 32% are fully vaccinated and 24% have received a single shot, according to Our World In Data.

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Associated Press reporters Krutika Pathi and Sheikh Saaliq contributed to this report.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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