BMC prepares to handle Omicron- new strain of Coronavirus

BMC has collected swabs of about 1000 travellers who arrived from South Africa, geared up with Jumbo Covid Centres, oxygen facilities, hospital beds and health-workers along with hotels in the city

Representative image
Representative image

Santoshee Gulabkali Mishra

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started preparations to deal with a new strain of Coronavirus – Omicron. The BMC officials said that they are leaving no stone unturned to deal with the new variant virus situation.

The BMC has collected swabs of around 1000 travellers from African nations, where the new strain of Coronavirus --- omicron has been found.

"Out of 466 travellers, 100 are from Mumbai. We have already collected their swab sample. By tomorrow or day after tomorrow their reports are expected. It will be clear if they are positive or negative," Suresh Kakani , Additional Municipal Commissioner of BMC told National Herald.

Kakani said that as per the airport authority information, around 1,000 travellers have arrived in Mumbai from African countries in the last fortnight, but it has handed over a list of only 466 travellers so far.

Last week, World Health Organization (WHO) classified the latest variant B.1.1.529 of SARS-CoV-2 virus, Omicron, as a 'Variant of Concern', which means it could be more contagious and more virulent, and could lessen the effectiveness of public health measures, vaccines and therapeutics.

The BMC top officer told that if the swab tests are negative, then there is nothing to worry. However, as the city civic body they are further taking precautionary measures. “We will conduct genome sequencing of positive samples, along with S-gene missing test that is advised by WHO for faster detection of infection due to Omicron, without genome sequencing. If S-gene is missing, in that case, it is presumed that he (traveller) may be infected (With Omicron)," Kakani said, adding that the genome sequencing will confirm the infection.

Kakani said that the positive travellers, be they symptomatic or asymptomatic, will be shifted to the civic body's institutional quarantine facility at civic run Seven Hills Hospital in suburban Andheri.

According to Kakani, amid fear of Omicron infection spreading, they have kept all their five hospitals and jumbo facilities ready. Also they have initiated processes for structural audit, fire audit, oxygen supply system audit, besides stocking adequate medicines and appointment of manpower.

"Five jumbo centres are already functioning. We have to upgrade the facilities. One or two wards are already activated, but as and when required, we can activate more wards in the same jumbo facilities. The other requirements of oxygen and medicines are also on our priority list," he said.

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