Omicron fuels India’s third wave as Mumbai braces for ‘tsunami’ of Covid cases | India


India is in the midst of a third wave of Covid, officials said, as the spread of Omicron has resulted in a doubling of cases in recent days and curfews imposed in cities across the country.

“India is clearly in the third wave of Covid-19, and everything seems to be driven by Omicron,” said Dr NK Arora, chairman of the Covid-19 working group of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, who cited the “gallop increase” in cases seen over the past week as evidence.

Officially, India has detected 1,892 cases of Omicron, but Arora said Omicron now probably accounts for around 50% of new Covid cases in urban areas, overtaking Delta as the dominant variant. In Delhi, 84% of sequenced cases turned out to be the Omicron variant.

The highest concentration of Omicron cases are in Delhi and Mumbai and Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar said the city was bracing for a “tsunami” of cases. So far, the metropolis has registered nearly 11,000 new cases and Pednekar has warned that if it reaches 20,000, they would be likely to impose a lockdown.

The central government has advised all states to reactivate their Covid war rooms and strengthen health infrastructure, especially around oxygen supply and hospital bed capacity.

In Delhi, 40% of hospital beds are now reserved for Covid patients as the government announced a weekend curfew. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was among those who tested positive for the virus, a day after attending a campaign rally without a mask. The states of Punjab and Bihar have also imposed nighttime curfews.

Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist at the World Health Organization, warned that “India could see a big increase. The next two weeks will tell.

Swaminathan warned people not to trust the virus, which still had the potential to overwhelm India’s healthcare system even though it was milder than the Delta variant, adding that it was “not about the common cold “.

Currently, 64% of India’s adult population is fully vaccinated, while 90% have received only one injection, mainly of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine. However, the government has come under fire for its inability to start rolling out booster injections more quickly in the wake of omicron, which have been seen as essential in other countries to prevent the spread and hospitalization of the virus. Starting next week, vulnerable people, healthcare workers and people over 60 in India will be eligible for the recalls.

Arora was among those who ensured that the third wave was unlikely to be as brutal and devastating as the second wave that hit India in April, which caused the healthcare system to collapse, resulted in a nationwide oxygen shortage and overwhelmed crematoriums due to the scale of the dead.

He highlighted the situation in South Africa, where there was a high number of cases as Omicron was spreading rapidly in communities, but where most of the cases were mild or asymptomatic. The wave almost died out after a month. Arora said the high seroprevalence in India from previous exposure to the virus – which in Delhi was as high as 97% – could also help curb the impact of the third wave.

“In view of this, we might see a somewhat similar pattern in India when it comes to the third wave,” Arora told Press Trust India. “Looking at the behavior of the Covid infection over the past seven to 10 days in India, I think we may experience a third wave peak very soon. “

In Goa, which had suspended the introduction of restrictions to avoid harming the already besieged tourism industry, the State Health Services Directorate said the third wave hit the state on December 28. A few days later, around New Years Eve, the beaches of North Goa were teeming with crowds of tens of thousands of people, raising fears of a huge increase in cases in the coming days.

About 2,000 double-vaccinated revelers, mainly from Mumbai, Delhi and Gujarat, who were on a New Year’s cruise from Mumbai to Goa have been retained on the ship after 66 of them tested positive. Everyone on board was prevented from disembarking by authorities in Goa, so the boat was sent back to Mumbai, where tests were carried out and those that were positive were placed in institutional quarantine.

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