Bangalore: The South African national who tested positive for the Omicron variant escaped from here after procuring a fake negative report from a private lab, the Karnataka government said Friday. It also said that the government is trying to track 10 other passengers who reportedly went went missing from the airport.
Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashok however, exuded confidence that all the 10 will be traced. “By tonight (Friday) all 10 people who have reportedly gone missing will be traced and they will face tested,” Ashok said. “Travellers will not be allowed to leave the airport until their report is out,” Ashok told reporters after a top level meeting on Omicron.
The 66-year-old South African national found to be Omicron-infected ‘fled’ India, the minister informed. He also said 57 others who arrived on the same flight with the South African will also be tested, even though they all produced negative RT-PCR tests on arrival. “All will now be tested because one of them tested positive for Omicron even after showing a negative Covid test,” the minister informed.
The South African national had arrived November 20 from South Africa and left for Dubai seven days later. “We’ve lodged a complaint with the police and they will see what went wrong at the Shangri-La hotel, from where the person escaped,” Ashok said
The man, fully vaccinated, checked into the hotel the day he arrived. He was found to be positive for Covid-19. He had arrived with a negative Covid test report. When a government doctor visited him at the hotel, he was found to be asymptomatic. The South African was advised to self-isolate. As he was from one of the ‘at-risk’ countries his samples were collected again and sent for genome sequencing November 22.
Twenty-four people who came in contact with him were tested and found to be negative. The authorities also tested 240 secondary contacts – people who had come in contact with the primary contacts of the patent – and found them to be negative as well.
The man took went through another test at a private lab November 23 the result came back negative. The man around midnight of November 27, left the hotel, took a cab to the airport and boarded a flight to Dubai. Omicron was confirmed when he had already left.
Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar said priority has been given to tracing the passengers from Africa who vanished without tests at the airport. “In the past, police have done an efficient job of tracking down those who have escaped. So I am confident that those who have gone missing will also be tracked down,” he said.