Amid the ongoing scare of the spread of the newly detected Omicron Variant, the health ministry on Friday informed that around 101 cases of the Omicron variant have been detected across 11 states in the country so far.
Lav Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, informed during the health ministry’s briefing that there are over 100 Omicron cases across 11 states in India and the ‘highly mutated’ variant has been reported in 91 countries in the world.
There are 101 Omicron cases across 11 states in the country: Lav Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry pic.twitter.com/2OPjHBQ38b— ANI (@ANI) December 17, 2021
He informed that as per the World Health Organization’s prediction, Omicron is spreading faster than the Delta variant in South Africa, where the circulation of the Delta variant was low. He added that WHO had also warned that ‘It's likely that the Omicron will outpace Delta variant,’ where community transmission occurs.
Speaking further about India’s COVID-19 situation, he said daily new cases were recorded below 10,000 for the past 20 days and the case positivity for the last 1 week was 0.65%. As per the current data, Kerala contributes 40.31% to the total number of active cases in the country, Lav Agrawal added.
The Health secretary asserted the importance of maintaining social distance, using masks and getting vaccinated. He said that the states have been advised to ramp up precautionary measures during the meeting with the Prime Minister Modi. The Health ministry is analyzing the situation on a daily basis and they are focusing on testing, tracking, treating, clinical protocol and vaccination, Agrawal added.
On the rising speculations of highly mutated B.1.1.529 variant evading the efficiency of the vaccines, Health Secretary emphasised that 'There is no evidence to suggest that vaccines are not effective against Omicron variant.'
While, Dr Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR warned people to enforce stringent COVID precautionary measures Friday and said, ‘This is the time to avoid non-essential travel, mass gatherings and it is very important to observe low-intensity festivities.’
This is the time to avoid non-essential travel, mass gatherings and it is very important to observe low-intensity festivities: Dr. Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR on the emergence of Omicron variant of COVID19 pic.twitter.com/dk29MXM91f— ANI (@ANI) December 17, 2021
Speaking of the rampant COVID-19 surge in European countries, Dr VK Paul, Member-Health, Niti Aayog warned that, 'a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic is being experienced in Europe with a steep rise in cases and India needs to be prepared.’
Dr Pual informed that the overall COVID situation is under control in the country, however, the positivity rate in some districts is increasing and he also stressed the need to be cautious against the highly transmissible variant. Dr Paul said, ‘We need to see that such a situation doesn't emerge in India, we need to get ready to face such a situation in future. During winters viruses emerge, festivals are there and even tourism and during such time the pandemic increases. The overall situation is quite stable, in some districts the positivity rate is increasing.’
Pushing the need of vaccinating the maximum eligible population, he added, ‘First dose must be received by everyone and don't wait for the second dose, kindly take it. We are keeping a very close watch on the situation.’
On genome sequencing the samples to detect the Omicron variant, he said that genome sequencing of every sample is not possible. ‘It is a surveillance and pandemic assessment & tracking tool, not a diagnostic tool as of now. We can assure sufficient systematic sampling is being undertaken,’ Dr Paul added.