Confused whether the XE variant of Covid has entered their city or not, Mumbaikars have decided to play it safe by continuing to wear masks.
The first case of the XE variant in India was reported in Mumbai on April 6, the Bruhanmumbai Municipal Corporation said. But the Union Health Ministry has denied this and said present evidence does not suggest that it is the new variant.
Mausam Gala, 22, a marketing associate from Mumbai, thinks that since almost everybody is vaccinated, there is no reason to worry. “People have become conscious about their health and immunity, so even if this variant is a big deal, we should be able to fight it,” she informed The Observer.
Arun Harchandani, a working professional, spoke about the spirit of Mumbai and Mumbaikars. “We will go with the flow and accept all challenges that come our way.”
The World Health Organization has said that the latest mutant may be more transmissible than the previous ones. However, this finding requires further confirmation.
XE is a “recombinant”, a mutation of the BA1 and BA2 Omicron strains, said the UK’s Health Security Agency. Recombinant mutations emerge when a patient is infected by multiple variants of Covid.
“I think government’s decision (to remove all Covid restrictions) is valid,” said Manali Sawant, a law intern at the Bombay High Court. “But people in the city are still paranoid. It isn’t mandatory, but everyone at the High Court is wearing masks.” People taking precautions is better than them being careless.
Sanket Garud, a law graduate from Mumbai, informed The Observer: “Cases in China and Europe are rising again. It is only a matter of time that spread begins in India. I believe the Mumbai administration has worked efficiently so far, but as citizens we should be careful and avoid unnecessary large social gatherings.”
Ninad Gadre, 21, a student, said information about the new variant is not fully out yet. “We don’t know much about it. There is no clarity. BMC said one thing, but the Centre is saying something different. I don’t want to panic, but I still wear masks everywhere.” Talking about the Maharashtra government’s decision to lift Covid norms, he said: “People used to at least wear masks fearing fines from BMC, but now since that is revoked, people aren’t wearing them.”
Dr Tushar Joshi, a physiotherapist at Wockhardt hospital, Mumbai said people should not panic over the new variant. “It needs to be investigated first thoroughly and then decisions should be taken accordingly.”
About the government’s decision to revoke all Covid restrictions, he said: “I don’t want to comment on the decision, but I don’t think it is appropriate to take off masks right now.”
Mumbai reported 108 new Covid cases and seven deaths on April 6, 2022. The total active cases in Maharashtra was 1,873.