Omicron variant behind current surge in COVID-19 cases: expert

By Special Correspondent
N.K. Arora (Source: The Hindu)

The current surge in COVID-19 cases is driven mostly by the Omicron variant, a top health expert in India said on Tuesday. He said the rise in numbers was expected to continue for the next few weeks. At present, COVID deaths were being reported mostly among those with co-morbidities, the expert said.

Following the continued spike in cases across India, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday held a virtual meeting with members of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to discuss the clinical treatment guidelines and measures to be brought in to ensure that correct information was provided to the public.

“Most COVID-19 cases in India currently seem to be driven by the Omicron variant,” said N.K. Arora, who heads the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), COVID Working Group. The early indication given by the IIT Kanpur model noted that transmission was taking place very actively and that India should be reaching its peak in the near future. “But it is likely to last for several weeks before it subsides,” Dr. Arora told ANI.

“The peak will depend on the virus transmission, and how well the community adheres to the COVID-appropriate behaviour. If the norms are violated, a faster and taller peak is likely to occur. On the other hand, vaccination and administrative actions such as night curfews and weekend curfews tend to flatten the curve,” said Dr. Arora.

He said the initial experience from the genomic surveillance showed that from 10 days to two weeks, over 90% of the virus circulating in big cities like Delhi, Pune and Mumbai was the Omicron variant. However, the Delta variant cases were not completely out and some districts of Tamil Nadu and the areas of the north-eastern States were still reporting the cases.

Dr. Arora said that as per reports, most of the COVID deaths were associated with patients with co-morbidities.

“Most of the COVID deaths occurring on a daily basis are associated with co-morbidities like heart attack, brain stroke or other problems. But yes, there are some deaths that are occurring because of the virus. But overall the situation is under control,” the expert said.

“About 85% of the deaths being reported are from people above 60 years of age,” Dr. Arora added

Meet with doctors

Earlier in the day, Mr. Mandaviya held a virtual meeting with senior doctors across the country on COVID-19 management. The Ministry said the meeting was aimed at involving the group as partners for taking forward the clinical treatment guidelines of the government and creating awareness on how to help the general public stay away from rumours.

“Discussed with 120 expert doctors from across the country regarding the current COVID-19 situation. Listened to their suggestions and gave related instructions. I believe that we will all work together as a link to fight against Corona,” the Minister tweeted following the meeting.

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