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A nurse prepares to administer vaccine for COVID-19 at a private vaccination center in Guwahati. Image Credit: AP

Bew Delhi: The health department of Bihar on Thursday detected a new COVID-19 variant of Omicron in Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS).

The new variant BA.12 is 10 times more dangerous than BA.2 which was detected during the third wave of COVID-19 in the country.

Prof Dr Namrata Kumari, the HOD of microbiology department of IGIMS, said: “Keeping in view the rising COVID cases, we had started genome sequencing of samples of Omicron variant. There were 13 samples tested and one of them had BA.12 strains. The remaining 12 samples have BA.2 strains.”

“We have asked the authority for contact tracing of all the positive samples of Omicron. The BA.12 variant is 10 time more dangerous than BA.2. Though, there is no need to worry. Precaution is required here to protect from it,” She said.

The BA.12 variant was first detected in the US. There were two to three cases detected in Delhi and now one case in Patna.

India on Thursday witnessed an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases, with 3,303 fresh cases in the last 24 hours, the union health ministry said. There were 39 fatalities over the same period. On Wednesday 2,927 COVID-19 cases were reported.

Delhi accounted for 1,367 cases which is 58.61 per cent of the total cases, followed by Maharashtra with 186 cases and the rest of the cases were reported in other states.

Meanwhile, Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director of Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS), Bengaluru, has called for reducing the gap for booster doses from nine to five-six months after two-doses of covid-19 vaccination, saying “it can be a good approach”.

“I think if a booster dose is made available before nine months, it will be very good. Five-six months can be a good time to give the booster doses. If we have vaccines available then we should use them,” Dr said told ANI.

He explained that the chances of a fourth wave in India are very less. But efforts should be to not allow the virus to spread, he added.

“Our vaccination programme has been very powerful and most eligible people have taken two doses. Children are getting their doses and many people are also taking booster doses. We had 80-90 per cent Sero survey positivity. If the fourth wave comes it will be an extraordinary situation,” he said.

“Infection will keep going up and down, a little bit with a very minimal hospital requirement. But by allowing the virus to spread, we are giving a virus a chance to bounce back on us,” Mishra said.

On recombinant variants he said, it is not much worrisome but virus has another way of making new variants.

“Recombinant variants are very common in flu. There are some confirmed cases in Australia and the US, not in India. This is not much worrisome at the moment, but this means that viruses have another way of making new variants not only simply mutation in a lineage way, but also recombinant, which is a very powerful mutational approach to generate new characters, living organisms,” he added.

Goa urges citizens to continue wearing masks 

The Goa government has advised citizens to continue wearing masks and follow COVID appropriate behaviour in wake of rising cases.

“Government desires that in view of the emerging COVID situation across the country, all the citizens be advised to continue wearing masks at all public places and also to continue observing all COVID appropriate behaviour as an important preventive measure,” read the advisory of the state Public Health Department.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, there are currently 27 active COVID cases in Goa. So far 3,832 people have died due to the disease in Goa.

Maharashtra CM: Follow guidelines

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has urged people to follow all precautionary guidelines to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

“The corona is not over yet, with new viruses being born around the world. Although we too have successfully battled the three waves, we lost some of our loved ones,” said Thackeray.