S-gene dropout found in another traveller from Congo

As of now, there is 1 confirmed case of Omicron variant and 12 suspected cases

An analysis has found S-gene dropout in the sample of another traveller, a woman in Arani who had returned from Congo. Her sample has been sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, for whole genome sequencing to identify the variant, according to Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan.

With this, the S-gene target failure was observed in nine persons in the State.

This included the 47-year-old man who travelled from Nigeria whose sample was confirmed by NIV to be of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. The S-gene dropout was identified in the woman’s sample on Thursday, he said.

While the Health Department had lifted samples from 59 contacts of the first traveller, a total of 219 samples were lifted from the contacts of a co-passenger as he had attended a wedding and visited places including a departmental store.

The S-gene dropout was observed in four samples lifted from his close contacts, officials said.

As of now, there is one confirmed case of Omicron variant and 12 suspected cases with S-gene dropout, Mr. Radhakrishnan said.

The Health Secretary inspected the COVID-19 infrastructure at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) on Thursday.

With the suspicion that these persons could have been infected with the Omicron variant, Mr. Radhakrishnan raised the need for the public to adhere to COVID-19 appropriate behaviour.

“Last year, we did not know what drugs to use and who were at risk. In May, we faced oxygen shortage. The situation is not the same now. We have 1,11,000 beds in the State,” he said.

The block at the RGGGH had seven floors. There were 72 beds at the zero delay ward while each flood had 136 beds.

There were 455 ventilators, and the hospital had 2,050 beds for COVID-19 patients alone.

Chennai had a total of 8,164 oxygen beds, 3,770 non-oxygen beds and 1,849 ICU beds, he said, adding: “At the peak period, we had readied 1,80,000 beds in the State. The COVID-19 Care Centres for patients with mild infection are currently closed but are ready. There a total of 1,11,252 beds ready at the centres. Of this, Chennai has 13,883 beds. Unlike last year, we have all the drugs ready.”

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