The Omicron variant is spreading faster than the Delta variant of coronavirus and it’s likely that the former will outrun the latter in case of community transmission, said the Union Health Ministry on Friday citing WHO’s concerns, while also advising people to exercise caution and strictly follow Covid-appropriate norms.
The Centre also informed at a press briefing that India’s Omicron tally now stands at 101, with Maharashtra at the top, followed by Delhi.
“101 Omicron cases in India. Omicron variant reported in 91 countries in the world. WHO has said that Omicron is spreading faster than the Delta variant in South Africa where Delta circulation was low. It’s likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where community transmission occurs,” said Lav Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry.
Shedding light on India’s Omicron cases, Agarwal said that only a few cases of the new variant don’t have a travel history. “Most cases are either travel or travel contact history,” he added.
So far, Maharashtra has reported the highest number of Omicron cases at 32, followed by Delhi at 22, Rajasthan 17, Karnataka 8, Telangana 8, Gujarat 5, Kerala 5, Andhra Pradesh 1, Chandigarh 1, Tamil Nadu 1 and West Bengal 1.
On the vaccine front, the health ministry shared some good news saying that India is administering vaccine doses at the highest rate in the world as the daily rate of doses administered is 4.8 times the rate of doses administered in the US (15.5 lakh) and 12.5 times the UK (5.9 lakh). Agarwal added that more than 136 crore doses have been administered in India so far.
The health ministry further said that there’s a need to stay vigilant even though daily new Covid cases have been below 10,000 since the past 20 days.
ICMR chief Dr Balram Bhargava echoed similar sentiments and asked people to avoid non-essential travel, mass gatherings and observe low-intensity festivities.
‘UK’s Covid Surge at this scale would mean 14 lakh cases in India’
Comparing UK’s Covid surge with India’s, Covid task force chief Dr VK Paul said, “If we look at the scale of spread in the UK and if there is a similar outbreak in India, then given our population, there will be 14 lakh cases every day. France is reporting 65,000 cases. If an outbreak of a similar scale takes place in India, then given our population it will mean 13 lakh cases every day.”
He said that a new phase of the pandemic is being experienced in Europe with a steep rise in cases.
Speaking on booster shots, Paul said the Centre is engaging the scientific community. “We will be offering this option when there is appropriate evidence and need. Let us first inoculate all adults with both doses,” he added.