XE Variant Covid: XE or not? Maharashtra reports ‘first case’ of new Omicron variant, Centre denies claim

The Maharashtra government and the Centre appeared to be at loggerheads over the reports of India’s first case of Omicron’s XE variant.
Hours after report of detection of XE variant of coronavirus in Mumbai, the Ministry of Health has said present evidence does not suggest the presence of the new variant.

While the BMC claimed it had found the XE strain in the sample of a 50-year old South African costume designer who tested positive in Mumbai over a month back, central agencies said the diagnosis was wrong.

India reports first case of new covid variant XE from Mumbai

One case of the new Covid variant, XE, was detected in Mumbai today. Out of 376 samples tested, one turned positive for the XE variant

According to the Maharashtra health department, the woman arrived in India on February 10 and was tested on February 27 for COVID-19 with her test returning a positive result. Her lab sample was referred to Kasturba Hospital Central laboratory for genome sequencing.

The woman was asymptomatic and found to be RT-PCR negative on repeat testing.

At the end of the day, the Maharashtra government said GISAID (global genomic data) had confirmed XE, while INSACOG (the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium) decided to go for another round of genomic sequencing at the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), West Bengal, for confirmation. A note given by the state government said, “Mumbai has a probable XE case.”

Assuring citizens that there was no need to panic about the detection of the XE variant of the virus, Dr. Shashank Joshi, Maharashtra government’s Covid-19 task force member said that the XE variant case occurred in the first week of March and the patient was now fully recovered.

The XE variant is a combination of the BA.1 and BA.2 strains of Omicron and is found to be responsible for enhanced viral transmission in countries such as the UK.

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