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101 Omicron cases detected in India across 11 states, says health ministry

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Guwahati: The tally of COVID-19 infections caused by the Omicron variant has crossed 100 in the country, the Union Health Ministry said in a press briefing on Friday (December 17), news agency ANI reported.

“There are 101 Omicron cases across 11 states in the country,” said Lav Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry.

So far, the highest number of infections have been detected in Maharashtra (32).

“Omicron variant reported in 91 countries in the world. World Health Organization (WHO) has said that Omicron is spreading faster than the Delta variant in South Africa where Delta circulation was low,” Agrawal added.

The Health Ministry also urged people to avoid non essential travel, mass gatherings and observe low intensity festivities ahead of new year in view of the emerging risks due to the Omicron variant.

“This is the time to avoid non-essential travel, mass gatherings and it is very important to observe low-intensity festivities,” Dr Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR said.

“The states need to act proactively to detect the Omicron cases, and the citizens need to act very responsibly,” Centre’s COVID-19 Task Force chief Dr VK Paul said.

“A new phase of the COVID19 pandemic is being experienced in Europe with a steep rise in cases,” Dr Paul said.

Referring to the record spike in cases in the UK, Dr Paul suggested that a similar spread in India could prove to be disastrous. “If we do a population level conversion, the 80,000 cases in UK would be 14 lakh in India,” he said.

He added the situation is currently “stable” in India, Dr Paul stressed that “we need to adopt profound caution”.

He further added, “Genome sequencing of every sample is not possible. It is a surveillance and pandemic assessment and tracking tool, not a diagnostic tool as of now. We can assure sufficient systematic sampling is being undertaken.”

While speaking about the overall COVID-19 situation in India, Lav Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry said, “New daily cases were recorded below 10,000 for the past 20 days. The case positivity for the last 1 week was 0.65%. Currently, Kerala contributes 40.31% to the total number of active cases in the country.”

“India is administering COVID-19 vaccine doses at the highest rate in the world and the daily rate of doses administered is 4.8 times the rate of doses administered in the USA and 12.5 times the rate of doses administered in the UK,” Agrawal added.

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