As many as 9,672 Omicron samples were found in January in genome sequencing constituting 75 per cent of the total sequenced samples of COVID-19, a huge rise from the December figure of 1,292, the government said on Thursday
Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday extended the coronavirus containment measures till 28 February 2022. In an order issued to states, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that there has been a steady increase in the number of COVID cases in the country and the active cases have increased to over 22 lakh.
Bhalla said due to the current COVID wave, led by the new variant, Omicron, there has been a steady increase in the number of COVID cases in the country and the active cases have increased to over 22 lakhs. He added, though a majority of active cases are recovering fast and a low percentage of cases are in hospitals, it is still a matter of concern that 407 districts in 34 States & UTs are reporting a positivity rate of more than per cent.
“Therefore, looking at the current trends of the COVID virus, there is a need to exercise caution and vigilance”, Balla said.
The order further read, “In this background, I would like to reiterate that all the States/UTs must observe all precautions and not let the guard down. Based on the normative framework, mentioned in the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFIN) D.O. letter dated 21.12.2021 and assessment of the situation, local/district administration should continue to take prompt and appropriate containment measures. Imposition and lifting of local curbs/restrictions should be dynamic and should be based on the case positivity and hospitalization status at the local level.”
The Union home secretary added that he would like to emphasize that there should be a continued focus on the five-fold strategy, i.e., Test-Track-Treat-Vaccination and adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour. He added that the State enforcement machinery should strictly enforce the norms of COVID Appropriate Behaviour, i.e., wearing of face masks and maintaining safe social distancing in all public areas/gatherings.
“Further, States & UTs should continue to hold regular media briefings to disseminate the right information and to discourage any misinformation on new variants of concern,” he added.
“I would, therefore, urge you to issue necessary directions to the districts and all other local authorities concerned, to take necessary measures for prompt and effective management of COVID• 19, strict compliance with various advisories issued by the MoFIFW on the new VoC and strict enforcement of COVID Appropriate Behaviour,” he noted.
9,672 Omicron samples found in January
According to a report by PTI, as many as 9,672 Omicron samples were found in January in genome sequencing constituting 75 per cent of the total sequenced samples of COVID-19, a huge rise from the December figure of 1,292, the government said on Thursday.
Addressing a press conference, NCDC Director Dr S K Singh said sub-lineages of Omicron – BA.1 and BA.2 were found in sequenced samples while BA.3 has not been found yet.
“We were getting more samples of BA.1 earlier mostly found in travellers but now we are seeing that BA.2 has become more prevalent in the community,” Singh said.
He further said that a huge rise from December has been seen in the number of Omicron samples in January.
“In genome sequencing, a huge increase in Omicron samples was seen between December and January,” he said.
In December, only 1,292 omicron samples while 17,272 samples were of Delta variant and of AY series of COVID-19 in genomic sequencing.
In January, 9,672 omicron samples were found which was about 75 per cent of total sequenced samples and AY lineage was found in 3,201 samples and Delta was found in 1,578 samples, he said.
He further said that Delta variant has been found predominantly in Odisha, West Bengal and Maharashtra.
“It is not that everywhere we are finding only Omicron cases, we are also seeing Delta variant cases which shows that Delta variant impact has not completely ended. In severity and hospitalisation, we can also find delta so it is important we don’t look at hospitalised cases unilaterally that it is omicron so it would be mild,” he said.
Earlier this week, the Indian SARS-COV-2 Genomics Consortia INSACOG said that Omicron is in the community transmission stage in India and has become dominant in multiple metros, where new cases have been rising exponentially, with BA.2 lineage, an infectious sub-variant of Omicron, found in a substantial fraction in the country, PTI said.
Delhi lifts weekend curfew; theatres, restaurants to operate at 50% capacity
This comes on the same day that the Delhi Disaster Management Authoritydecided to lift the COVID-19 restriction of weekend curfew and odd-even rule for non-essential commercial establishment in the national capital, sources said.
According to sources, weddings can be held in the national capital with 200 people or at 50 per cent capacity of the premises. Cinema halls, bars and restaurants can also operate at 50 per cent capacity, said sources. Delhi government offices will also operate with 50 per cent capacity, ANI said.
However, the decision on the reopening of schools will be taken up in the next DDMA meeting.
With inputs from agencies
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