Signs That Omicron "Gradually Spreading In Community": Delhi Minister – NDTV

January 22, 2022

People with no travel history are being infected with the Omicron Covid variant and this suggests it is now spreading in the community, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain said Thursday, sounding a grim warning as the confirmed number of cases of the new strain near 1,000 in India.
In Delhi 46 of 115 samples sequenced so far have tested positive for Omicron, Mr Jain said, adding that there were 200 COVID-19 patients (of all known strains) in hospital at this time. 115 others, including foreign arrivals, are asymptomatic but are in hospitals as a precaution.
As of this morning there are 961 Omicron Covid cases reported in India and 263 of them are in the national capital, followed by Maharashtra (257), Gujarat (97), Rajasthan (69), and Kerala (65).
Today’s figures represent a worrying 23 per cent increase in Omicron cases in just 24 hours.
First detected in South Africa in November, Omicron is significantly more infectious – at least three times more so, per the government’s estimates – and is believed to be more resistant to vaccines.
The variant has spread to over 100 countries already and is understood to be behind the massive spike in cases in several; the United Kingdom, for example, reported over 1.8 lakh yesterday.
The national capital is on ‘yellow alert’ over the rise in Covid (Omicron) cases.
This means restrictions like night curfew (10 pm to 5 am), closure of educational institutions, cinemas, and gyms, as well as 50 per cent cap on seating capacity of Metro trains and public buses.
Restaurants and bars will close at 10 pm and they too will operate at half capacity.
Private offices will function at 50 per cent capacity (except for essential services) and malls and shops can operate between 10 am and 8 pm on the odd-even basis.
Fuelled, in part, by the Omicron strain, Delhi has also reported an overall spike in COVID-19 cases.
On Wednesday the city reported 923 new Covid cases – a frightening 86 per cent jump in 24 hours.
Data suggests the spike in Delhi is almost 21 per cent faster than the second wave in March-April.
There has been a similarly rapid increase in Mumbai, with the city reporting over 2,500 new cases yesterday. Bengaluru reported a staggering 400 of 566 reported from across Karnataka.
Both cities have also re-announced restrictions on movement and activities, including limits on gatherings ahead of New Year celebrations – which are potential ‘super-spreader events.
This morning India reported 13,154 COVID-19 cases (of all strains) – 43 per cent more than yesterday.
Researchers at the United Kingdom’s Cambridge University have warned of an “explosive” growth of Omicron cases in India within days, and said it is “hard to predict how high daily cases” could go.
At the peak of the second wave India reported over four lakh new cases per day.
With a worried eye on the Omicron strain government is – belatedly, given that most major nations are already well into providing booster shots – prepping to roll out a third round of vaccinations for healthcare and frontline workers, as well as those over 60 with co-morbidities.

These, however, will be “precautionary” shots, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed.
With input from PTI
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