Twelve students of a nursing college in Bengaluru – 11 of them fully vaccinated – have tested positive for COVID-19. Nine are symptomatic.
The outbreak at Spurthy College in Marasur comes as a medical college in Karnataka’s Dharwad was also declared a COVID-19 cluster after the number of students and staff infected with coronavirus went up to 182 from 66 a day before.
All students who have tested positive are first-year BSc students. One of them had not been vaccinated because she had tested positive in June this year.
According to authorities, the medical college had been testing students and staff once every 15 days and steps have been taken to test all primary contacts and remaining students.
The clusters in Karnataka are being reported as India steps up testing and screening of international travellers from South Africa and other “at risk” countries amid concerns over a new coronavirus variant.
The Union Health Ministry said reports of mutations in the new variant, identified as B.1.1.529, had “serious public health implications”.
“This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel,” Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to states late on Thursday.
While some major Asian countries rushed to tighten border controls and restrict travellers, India had not yet issued a notification.
The world’s second-worst affected country by COVID-19, India posted the smallest rise in new cases in one-and-a-half years this week, due to rising vaccinations and antibodies in a large section of its population from previous infections.
The country’s total cases of the coronavirus reached 34.56 million on Friday. India’s daily caseload has halved since September and the country reported 10,549 new cases on Friday.