Officials on alert as one tests positive for Omicron

The person had returned from South Africa to Ongole

A 48-year-old returnee from South Africa has tested positive for the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, according to Prakasam District Medical and Health Officer P. Ratnavalli.

Panic gripped residents of Ongole, which has been slowly limping back to normal as infections have come to bare minimum of late.

“We have isolated all the seven primary contacts of the man, who has come from South Africa to Dubai and then to Hyderabad and Ongole, at the Government General Hospital here,” Dr. Ratnavalli said. “Their health condition is stable,” she told The Hindu on Sunday.

“Thirty-two primary and secondary contacts of the foreign returnee have been subjected to testing,” she added.

In all, 1,200 persons who had returned from abroad to different parts of Prakasam district were subjected to testing. Three of them had tested positive for other variants of COVID-19, Dr. Ratnavalli said. The health officials had sought the assistance of police to trace about 60 foreign returnees who could not be located yet.

Meanwhile, the officials have geared up to scale up testing from about 4,500 per day to 9,000. Testing facilities have been put in place in Markapur and Kandukur to conduct the tests as the third wave is expected sooner than later.

“People can no longer be complacent and they have to strictly adhere to the COVID-appropriate behaviour,” they said.

Police warning

Hefty fines would be imposed on those found moving without face masks in public places, Special Branch Deputy Superintendent of Police Mariya Das said.

People have to clean their hands with sanitisers from time to time. Public gatherings during marriage and other social occasions should be restricted to 50, he said.

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