Govt. advises caution as Omicron cases go up

Strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols during Christmas, New Year celebrations

The government has advised caution in celebrating Christmas and New Year even as the number of Omicron cases in Kerala rose to 29 with the infection confirmed in five more persons on Thursday.

Health Minister Veena George underlined the need for heightened surveillance in the light of the increasing number of infections in persons travelling to the State from low-risk countries. She said 17 of the 29 infected persons had arrived from high-risk countries, including the U.K., Tanzania, Ghana and Ireland, while 10 had travelled from low-risk nations such as Dubai, Congo, Tunisia, Nigeria, Kenya and Albania. Two persons had contracted the infection through contact.

Highlighting the transmission potential of the Omicron variant, the Minister said the emerging situation called for avoiding mass gatherings and strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols, including wearing of masks and proper ventilation in closed spaces. Senior citizens, children and ailing persons have been advised to take more precautions and those placed under quarantine or self observation have been directed to remain indoors.

The Minister also exhorted citizens to get themselves vaccinated at the earliest.

Of the five Omicron cases confirmed on Thursday, four had arrived at the Cochin airport from the U.K., Nigeria and Albania on December 15, 19 and 20 and the other was a Kozhikode native who had travelled to the State from the Bengaluru airport. Five family members of the person who had arrived from Nigeria are among the contacts.

All the five infected persons have been admitted to hospital and efforts were on to trace their contacts, the Health department said.

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