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81% of Delhi samples sequenced in 2 days had omicron variant: Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain

Delhi reported 4,099 new cases of coronavirus on Monday as per the daily health bulletin. The number of fresh cases shot up from less than 500 a day to over 4,000 in just six days.

Written by Anonna Dutt | New Delhi |
January 3, 2022 7:53:43 pm
Delhi: Roads in Mayapuri & Mangolpuri industrial areas to be upgraded, says Satyendar JainDelhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain (File photo)

With Covid cases on the rise, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain Monday said over 81% of the total samples sequenced over the last two days were found to have the omicron variant. Of the 187 samples sequenced in the two days, 152 were classified as omicron, as per the data shared by the Delhi government.

This is contrary to no case of omicron being recorded over the last two days in Delhi as per the data released by the Central government, though that could be the result of a technical issue. “The data shared by the minister are from three labs that sequence samples from Delhi – Lok Nayak, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, and the National Centre for Disease Control. The previous two days were holidays and it is likely that due to staff shortage the data might not have been uploaded yet. It should reflect in tomorrow’s bulletin,” said a senior official from the Delhi government.

Jain said, “81.28% of the samples whose genome sequencing results came out over the last two days had the omicron variant. The spread would have stopped if the central government took the right decision to stop the flights coming from abroad on time. Even after the repeated requests made by the Chief Minister of Delhi, no appropriate action was taken.”

“From the experience of other countries, it seems that omicron leads to a sharp increase in the number of cases and a similar quick decline. The good thing is that hospitals are seeing only mild cases of the disease,” he said.

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This shows that Omicron has out-competed the delta variant to become dominant in the capital. Last week, the minister had said that the new variant was circulating in the community. The Indian Express was first to report on December 28 that Delhi had detected several omicron cases in persons with no history of travel or contact.

Not only has omicron been found in 80% of the total samples, a similar proportion of those with omicron have no history of international travel or contact with an international traveller.

“Over 80% of those who were found to have omicron variant in the last few days did not have any history of travel or contact, meaning that the variant is now in the community. If I talk about the samples processed at my lab, 50% of all the samples, since we started reporting omicron, are that of the new variant and the rest are delta and its sub-lineages. The proportion is now increasing day by day,” said Dr Ekta Gupta, professor of virology at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences.

Delhi reported 4,099 new cases of coronavirus on Monday as per the daily health bulletin. The number of fresh cases shot up from less than 500 a day to over 4,000 in just six days.

Along with the increase in the absolute number of cases, the positivity rate (proportion of the total patient samples that return positive for Covid-19) has also increased to 6.46%.

As per the Delhi government’s Graded Response Action Plan for Covid-19, the highest tier of restrictions – a total curfew – comes into action when the positivity rate of over 5% is reported for two consecutive days. The government, however, hasn’t implemented the restrictions keeping in mind the migrant workers and the seemingly mild nature of the new variant.

“There are hardly any patients admitted to the hospitals, only about 200 Delhi patients. Last year, when cases were going up and when there were 8,000 active cases, there were about 1,000 hospitalisations. There is no need to panic, but we have to be careful and wear a mask to prevent further spread of the infection,” said Jain. He was referring to the previous day’s health bulletin.

As per Monday’s bulletin, there are 10,986 active cases or those with current infection in Delhi. Of these, 420 are admitted to hospitals and seven are on ventilator.

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