India has reported 358 cases of the newly-emerged Omicron COVID-19 variant so far, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said on Friday, 24 December, warning that the world is witnessing the fourth surge of coronavirus and there was no room for complacency.
"The world is witnessing the fourth surge and and the overall positivity is 6.1 percent. Therefore, we have to be on guard and we can't afford to slacken," Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan stated.
Noting the threat posed by the high transmissibility of Omicron, Health Secretary Bhushan said at a press briefing:
“The World Health Organisation on 7 December said that Omicron has a significant growth advantage over Delta, which means it has greater transmissibility. Omicron cases double within 1.5-3 days, so we have to remain vigilant with COVID-appropriate behaviour.”
"The treatment protocols for COVID-19 and Delta variant will apply to Omicron... While the evidence is still emerging, the immune escape potential for Omicron seems to be higher, and its high transmission rates will lead to high surge cases," the health secretary warned.
An analysis of 183 Omicron cases in India by the Centre showed that at least nine among 10 persons are getting infected by the highly transmissible.
Released by Health Secretary Bhushan, it showed 27 percent of the cases did not have a history of foreign travel — indicating the presence of Omicron in the community.
Further, only seven out of the 183 affected people were unvaccinated, whereas, 87 were fully vaccinated vaccinated and three had received booster shots.
On Booster Doses, Decision Will Be Based on Scientific Evidence: Health Secretary
"The government of India has very clearly articulated that the decision will be taken guided by science and scientific evidence, on deciding on the need and timing for additional doses of the vaccine and for lowering the age of vaccination," Bhushan said at the press briefing.
As per the health ministry, 89 percent of the adult population in India has received the first dose of the COVID vaccine, while 61 percent of the eligible population has received the second dose.
"Today, we have 18,10,083 isolation beds, 4,94,314 O2 supported beds, 1,39,300 ICU beds, 24,057 pediatric ICU beds and 64,796 pediatric non-ICU beds available nationally," the health ministry official noted.
Maharashtra's Omicron Tally Up to 88, Delhi's 67
The active Omicron caseload in the country is 244, the government indicated on Friday.
The majority of Omicron cases in India have been reported from five states – Maharashtra (88), Delhi (67), Telangana (38), Tamil Nadu (34), Karnataka (31).
114 persons have recovered from the virus so far.
Meanwhile, India recorded 6,650 new cases on Thursday, taking the tally of active cases in the country to 77,516.