The Omicron variant of Coronavirus is now the dominant variant in India, the government said today. There are also early indications of a plateau in the number of cases, with just the top 10 states contributing to 77 per cent of total active cases in the country, the health ministry told reporters. The percentage of the highly transmissible Omicron variant increased rapidly in December and January and the prevalence of the Omicron subvariant called BA.2 is increasing in our community, it added.
"1,292 cases of the latest variant of concern were found on genome sequencing in December which rose to 9,672 in January," Lav Agarwal, the joint secretary in the Health Ministry said.
The government credited wide vaccination coverage for a fall in the number of deaths. "Active case numbers and corresponding deaths are much lower in this wave," it said and pointed out that the severity of infections is also relatively lower.
More than 90 per cent of cases are in home isolation with mild to moderate severity and there are a lower number of cases needing oxygen and ICU beds, it said.
Stressing the need to continue with precautions to curb the surge in infections, it noted that Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan were recording a high number of Covid cases.
However, a decrease in Covid cases and positivity rate have been observed in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Odisha, Haryana and West Bengal, the government stated.
There are enough vaccines available and vaccinating more people is the most important step in fighting the virus, said Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). He also cautioned people with comorbidities to be especially careful and avoid large gatherings because the outcome is not as good in patients who have comorbidities.
About the vaccine coverage, the press conference was informed that 97.03 lakh healthcare, frontline workers and comorbid people aged 60 and above have been given the precaution dose of the Covid vaccine.
Also, 59 per cent of adolescents in the 15-18 year age group have so far received the first dose of the vaccine.
We are not seeing only Omicron cases, Dr. Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control, said and added that Odisha, West Bengal and Maharashtra are still showing cases of the Delta variant of the virus. "Clinical severity and hospitalisation can be caused by Delta as well," he said. Stressing the need to get vaccinated and follow Covid appropriate behaviour, he said that people who are unvaccinated and have comorbidities "are dying in Delhi". These two groups comprise 64 per cent of total Covid deaths, he added.
Highlighting some figures regarding the spread of the virus, the Centre said that 11 states have more than 50,000 active cases, and 14 states have between 10,000 and 50,000 active cases. Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala have over 3 lakh active infections.
551 districts in the country are reporting a positivity rate of over five per cent, which is up from 527 districts last week. 400 districts have logged weekly Covid positivity of over 10 per cent, the government informed.
The government has also launched the e-Sanjeevani platform for telemedicine and more than 2.3 crore teleconsultation have been provided to date, it claimed.
On market approval for vaccines, the government said that Covishield and Covaxin have been asked to share data every six months.
They will be rolled out in a programmatic setting, meaning all data will be on the Co-Win platform and all Adverse event following immunization (AEFI) data will be shared every six months.