India Reports First XE COVID-19 Case

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) of India announced Wednesday the detection of the new COVID-19 XE variant, a mutation of the Omicron variant, which experts believed would not cause severe infection.

BMC said that after conducting genome sequencing on 230 samples of COVID-19 patients, the agency identified 228 Omicron cases, one Kappa case, and one an XE variant case.

According to BMC, the XE variant case was of a 50-year-old South African woman, a shooting crew member who had arrived in Mumbai from South Africa on February 10, with no travel history before that.

The South African woman was fully vaccinated and tested on arrival, with no report of any COVID-19 pathogen, BMC said.

However, on March 2, Suburban Diagnostics conducted routine testing, in which the South African woman tested positive and was quarantined in a hotel room but tested negative the next day.

“We have found the XE variant in our sequencing, so it was announced. As we have been asked, we will send the data to INSACOG for analysis,” BMC Additional Commissioner Suresh Kakani said. 

The state public health department also said that INSACOG, the national genomics consortium, will carry out another round of sequencing to confirm this finding.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 task force asked people to be more vigilant and advised people to wear masks indoors and in crowded places.

“As it is a mutation of Omicron, which doesn’t involve lungs, it is believed that XE variant will not cause severe infection,” Task Force member Dr. Shashank Joshi said.

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