New Delhi: After Mumbai’s civic body BMC said India’s first case of the new Covid-19 variant, XE, had been detected in the city, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday ( April 6) that “the present evidence does not suggest the presence of the new variant”.
A 50-year-old fully vaccinated woman with a travel history to South Africa in February had been identified as the first case of the new Covid-19 variant XE.
As per the information provided by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the patient, a costume designer, arrived from South Africa on February 10.
It is believed that the XE variant is 10 per cent more transmissible than the other Omicron mutations.
On arrival in Mumbai, the woman was symptomatic but had tested negative for Covid-19.
“But on March 2, in a routine testing, conducted by Suburban Diagnostics, she was found positive and was quarantined in a hotel room,” a BMC statement read.
Within 24 hours, she turned negative on her next day’s test.
Later, the BMC, in its eleventh batch of genome sequencing at the civic-run Kasturba Hospital, detected her with the new variant — XE subtype. A total of 230 samples were sequenced, of which 228 samples were identified with Omicron.
However, quoting the Union health ministry, the Press Information Bureau of Maharashtra (Mumbai) later tweeted, “FastQ files in respect of the sample, which is being said to be #XEVariant were analysed in detail by genomic experts of INSACOG who have inferred that the genomic constitution of this variant does not correlate with the genomic picture of ‘XE’ variant.”
On the XE variant, Covid-19 task force member Dr Shashank Joshi assured there is no need to panic.
“As it is a mutation of Omicron, which doesn’t involve lungs, it is believed that the XE variant will not cause severe infection. But there is a need to use masks, especially at crowded places,” he said.
India reported 1,086 new coronavirus infections and 71 fatalities, taking the total tally of Covid-19 cases to 4,30,30,925 and the toll to 5,21,487 on April 6. The number of active cases nosedived to 11,871.
Last week, the World Health Organisation had notified that a new strain of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, first detected in the UK, appears to be more transmissible than previous coronavirus strains.
Days after monitoring the continuous dip in coronavirus cases in the country, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) last month decided to end all Covid-19 containment measures.