First case of Omicron's new sub-variant XE detected in Mumbai
PTI | DC Correspondent
Besides, a case of the Kappa variant of coronavirus was also detected during a sero survey
As per the sero survey, Omicron was found in 228 out of 230 samples (99.13 per cent) collected from Mumbai. One case was of XE, and another of Kappa. (Representational Image/ PTI)
Mumbai: The first case of XE, a more transmissible COVID-19 variant, was detected in Mumbai on Wednesday, officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.
But the data of the patient, a South African resident who has recovered from the infection since, will be sent to the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBGM) for further confirmation, a civic official said later.
The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) experts were conducting genomic analysis of the coronavirus case reported as that of XE variant by Mumbai civic officials though scientific evidence so far does not indicate it to be so, official sources said.
A woman who arrived from South Africa in February was found to have this Omicron sub-variant, BMC officials claimed earlier, adding that she was asymptomatic and recovered from the infection.
Besides, a case of the Kappa variant of coronavirus was also detected during a sero survey, a BMC official said, adding the results came in genome sequencing of 376 samples, the 11th batch of testing in the local genome sequencing lab.
Kappa cases have been found in the city earlier too, she added.
As per the sero survey, Omicron was found in 228 out of 230 samples (99.13 per cent) collected from Mumbai. One case was of XE, and another of Kappa.
The genome sequencing of 376 samples was conducted at the municipal Kasturba Hospital's Genome Sequencing Lab.
The condition of the patients found infected with the new strains of the virus was not serious, the official said.
As controversy arose over the accuracy of the BMC's finding, a civic official said late at night that the Kasturba Hospital's Genome Sequencing Lab's head Dr Jayavanti Shashtri participated in the INSACGO meeting, and was asked to send the sequencing data for further confirmation to the NIBMG.
Mumbai on Tuesday reported 56 COVID-19 cases, a three-fold rise from a day earlier, which took the infection count in the country's financial capital to 10,58,185.
The death toll remained unchanged at 19,559 as no new fatality was recorded, while the recovery count rose by 36 to touch 10,38,356, leaving the metropolis with 270 active cases.
A BMC official said the XE variant appears to be 10 per cent more transmissible than the BA.2 sub-variant of Omicron. So far, BA.2 was deemed to be the most contagious of all the COVID-19 variants.
The XE variant is a mutation of the BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron strains, referred to as a "recombinant.
As per the initial studies, the XE variant has a growth rate of 9.8 percent over that of BA.2, also known as the stealth variant because of its ability to evade detection.
The World Health Organization has said the latest mutant may be more transmissible than the previous ones.
Mangala Gomare, executive health officer of the BMC, told PTI that the woman who was found to have contacted the XE variant had arrived from South Africa and tested positive for coronavirus infection three weeks after arriving.
"She was asymptomatic and tested negative the next day," Gomare said.
The woman, who is a costume designer, was a member of a film shooting crew. She arrived from South Africa on February 10, 2022.
"She did not have any travel history prior to that. She had been vaccinated with both doses of the COMIRNATY vaccine," the official said, adding that she suffered from no co-morbidities.
On arrival in India she tested negative for COVID-19, but on March 2, she tested positive during routine testing. In the subsequent test, she tested negative.
She had been quarantined in a hotel rook during this period.
As to whether it was the first case of the XE variant detected in India, BMC officials said they could not confirm this.