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"Overall 25 Omicron cases have been detected in the country so far. All cases have mild symptoms. Omicron cases account for less than 0.04 per cent of total variants detected," Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary at the Union Health Ministry said at a briefing in the afternoon.
Later in the evening, seven more cases were confirmed in Maharashtra by the state government. All of them are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Mumbai, which reported three new patients including a three-year-old, banned large gatherings for two days.
Since December 1st, 93 international passengers have tested positive for COVID-19. Of these, 83 are from countries that have been designated "at-risk" given the Omicron breakout and 13 from other countries, Lav Agarwal said, adding that 59 countries have reported Omicron cases so far.
"Two countries had reported Omicron cases till November 24th. Now, 59 countries have reported cases of Omicron. These 59 countries have reported 2,936 Omicron cases. Besides this, 78,054 probable cases have also been detected - their genome sequencing is underway," the official said.
The government also issued a warning about declining mask usage and safety norms. "WHO is warning against the decline in mask usage. Global scene of Omicron is disturbing... We are now operating at a risky and unacceptable level. We have to remember that both vaccines and masks are important," Dr VK Paul, the NITI Aayog member for Health said.
The government said the treatment protocol for the Omicron variant remained the same and added that there was no immediate plan to authorise vaccine boosters. Although Omicron was not yet a burden on the healthcare system, a strict vigil had to be maintained, it said.
Dr Paul said that government experts were studying data on boosters but "our emphatic view...is to (first) cover every adult with (just) the primary two doses."
India's daily new COVID-19 cases have hovered around 10,000 for the past few weeks, taking the total to 34.67 million, more than 474,000 of whom have died.
Most contracted the Delta variant, though Omicron has spread to five states after India's first two cases were reported on Dec. 2. "All detected cases have mild symptoms," a health ministry statement said.
Active cases are highest in two states - Kerala and Maharashtra with over 43 per cent active cases in the former and over 10 per cent in the latter, Lav Agarwal said.