BA.4 Omicron variant likely in Chennai teen: TN Minister

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Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian on Saturday said that initial reports from a whole-genome sequencing lab have indicated the possibility of BA.4. Omicron variant in the state.

Confirmation of the same will be obtained after the report from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). If confirmed, this will be the second case of BA.4.Omicron after a case of the variant was confirmed in Telangana on Friday.

The 19-year-old female patient who lives in a gated community in Navalur, Chennai, and who tested positive on May 9, has recovered from the disease, the minister said. Her mother, who was also Covid positive during the same period, was carrying BA.2 variant and said that neither the daughter nor mother had any travel history.

State public health lab, which has a genome sequencing lab, collects samples from clusters on a routine basis. The public health lab sent the samples of the 19-year-old daughter and her mother to the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) on May 15 for whole-genome sequencing. The results found that the mother had BA.2 sub-lineage of the Omicron variant and the daughter had BA.4 variant.

Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan, while speaking to IANS said: “We are awaiting confirmation at the national level by NCDC and two members of the family generally carry the same variant if affected at the same time. Here we think that the source of infection of mother and daughter could be different.”

Minister Ma Subramanian told IANS said: “This is a clear reminder to continue the focus on eligible people getting completely vaccinated and the need to continue to follow Covid appropriate behaviour in crowded areas.”

It may be noted that scientists have warned that two Omicron sub-lineages, BA. 4 and BA.5 may possibly trigger a new wave of Covid -19 infections in South Africa.

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