COVID-19: Omicron behind the exponential rise in cases, government says

India is witnessing an exponential increase in COVID-19 cases, with Omicron, the highly mutant coronavirus variant, behind the increase, the Union’s Ministry of Health said on Wednesday.

According to government data, COVID-19 case positivity has risen from 0.79 percent to 5.03 percent. “India reports a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases. We have noticed an increase of 6.3 times in the last 8 days. A high increase is also noted globally in terms of COVID-19 cases. There is more more than 3.39 crore of active cases in the world; 25.2 lakh cases were recorded globally on January 4, the highest ever since the beginning of the pandemic, “said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary of the Union Ministry of Health.

Agarwal said, however, that although there has been a sharp increase in cases across countries, hospital admissions have remained relatively lower in India compared to previous increases. At least 4,70,462 Omicron cases have been registered in 139 countries. The highly transmissible mutant variant has claimed over 108 deaths worldwide, with one death in India from Udaipur in Rajasthan.

“Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Jharkhand are some of the new countries of concern that are witnessing an increase in weekly cases and positivity rates,” Agarwal said. At least 58,097 new cases of coronavirus were detected within the last 24 hours, including 2,135 Omicron cases, the Ministry of Health data showed.

At least 28 districts in India report more than 10 percent weekly positivity, and 43 districts report a weekly positivity of between 5 percent and 10 percent, the data showed.

The state has also revised the guidelines for home insulation. “According to the revised guidelines, elderly patients over the age of 60 and patients with comorbid conditions should only be allowed to be isolated at home after proper assessment by the physician. They should continue with medication for other comorbidities,” Agarwal said.

“As far as the treatment of patients with mild / asymptomatic disease is concerned, they should follow symptomatic treatment for fever, runny nose and cough. Do not rush for self-medication, blood test or radiological imaging,” he said.

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However, the government did not confirm whether the country has entered the third wave of COVID-19 infection.

According to the fresh guidelines, patients under home isolation will be discharged and complete isolation after at least seven days have passed from testing positive and there is no fever for three consecutive days. They must then continue to wear masks.

Asymptomatic contacts with infected persons do not need to undergo a Covid test and monitor the health in home quarantine. There is no need to test again after the isolation period is over, the guidelines stated.

Meanwhile, more than 1 crore of COVID-19 vaccine doses has been administered to adolescents aged 15-18 years. The cumulative COVID-19 vaccination approached 149 crore on Wednesday.

Over 90.8 percent of adults have received at least the first dose of a vaccine, while 65.9 percent of the population over the age of 18 have received both doses. Public health experts have warned that Omicron may escape immunity and vaccination may not help in the case of the variant.

“Omicron is another variant. This may be less serious; but the high transmission rate may be a worrying factor, there is the possibility of less protection by vaccination and natural immunity. Although Covid vaccines do not promise complete immunity to the virus, it has the potential to to minimize the damage. It reduces the chances of seriousness and reduces the risk of hospitalization, “said Dr Lingaiah Amidayala, Medical Director at Hyderabad’s Yashoda Hospitals.

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