Omicron threat: Karnataka to probe how SA national got negative result in 3 days that allowed him to leave India


Bengaluru: A day after two cases of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus was detected in the state, the Karnataka government on Friday (December 3, 2021) ordered a probe into test reports of the 66-year-old South African national, that allowed him to leave the country.

Meanwhile, amid some reports that at least 10 South African travellers have gone untraceable after reaching Bengaluru, the government directed officials to look into it, trace them immediately and get them tested.

The probe into the 66-year-old’s test came after questions were raised on how he managed to get a negative report within three days after testing positive for COVID on arrival and also about him reportedly attending some official meeting, and leaving the country even as his genomic sequencing reports were awaited.

“The person (66-year-old) had isolated at a hotel and he has gone from there (outside the country). First his (Covid test) report came positive and then re-test came negative. Whether there was any mishandling, whether the lab tests were accurate or was there any wrong doing, the police commissioner has been directed to investigate this,” Revenue Minister R Ashoka said.

Speaking to reporters after a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, he said the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike Commissioner has been directed to file a case at the city’s High Ground Police Station in this regard.

“Two reports- one positive and one negative- is doubtful. So the lab must be investigated. So we have asked the police commissioner to investigate immediately in coordination with the health department,” he added.

Officials on Thursday said that the South African national had come to Bengaluru on November 20 and his samples were collected at the airport and subsequently he tested positive. His samples were then sent for genome sequencing, the reports of which came on Thursday, confirming he was infected by Omicron.

Further noting that the person was isolated in a hotel, and subsequently underwent a test separately (self-investigation) at another laboratory (private lab on Nov 23), during which his reports came out negative, they had said he then left for Dubai on November 27 and all his 24 primary contacts and 240 secondary contacts had tested negative.

Responding to a question on reports that 10 South African travellers have gone untraceable, Ashoka said, “It has come out in the media that ten people are untraceable. Officials have been directed to look into it, trace them by tonight and get them tested.”

Stating that he has no official information about it, Health Minister K Sudhakar said that in case they have not been traced, the police are efficient enough to find them, as in the past. “But my appeal is that no one should switch off their mobiles and go untraceable. It is not the right way. They should behave responsibly.” 

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