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Delhi: No travel, contact history in 60 omicron cases, DDMA accepts community spread possibility

🔴 With 73 new cases of omicron variant detected on Wednesday, Delhi again shot past Maharashtra with the highest number of such cases in the country.

Written by Anonna Dutt | New Delhi |
Updated: December 30, 2021 8:58:18 am
Delhi: No travel, contact history in 60 omicron cases, DDMA accepts community spread possibilityEven with milder symptoms, experts say it is better to mask up. (Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

The possibility of community spread of the omicron variant in Delhi was accepted by officials at the meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) Wednesday after investigations into nearly 60 cases of omicron detected over the previous two days were found to have no history of international travel or contact with an international traveller. The Indian Express earlier had reported that 52 of the 63 new cases recorded on Monday did not have any history of travel or contact and were being investigated.

“After investigations, around 60 cases were found to have no history of international travel or contact with an international traveller. Hence, the possibility of community transmission of the new variant was accepted at the DDMA meeting,” said a Delhi government official. Whether this will change containment, testing and tracking measures is not known yet.

With 73 new cases of omicron variant detected on Wednesday, Delhi again shot past Maharashtra with the highest number of such cases in the country. Delhi’s total omicron tally stood at 238, according to government data. The increase in the cases of the heavily mutated new variant could be the reason for the recent surge in cases reported from Delhi.

In fact, omicron has overtaken delta variant in Delhi to become the dominant one over the last week, according to data from the three labs that do genomic sequencing for Delhi samples — Lok Nayak, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, and National Centre for Disease Control. 38% of the total samples processed were of the omicron variants, whereas 31% was that of Delta, as per the data.

Aside from the cases previously investigated, The Indian Express has also learnt that 64 of the 73 new cases of omicron detected on Wednesday also do not have any history of travel or contact. In fact, almost all of the people who tested positive for the variant on Wednesday had received both shots of their Covid-19 vaccines, and a couple of them who had a history of international travel had also received a third dose of Pfizer vaccine.

A second Delhi government official said, “Even till two or three days back we had hardly seen any omicron positive cases in the community. However, since then several such cases without any history of travel or contact are being reported. This clearly shows that the infection has started spreading in the community.”

The hospitals treating omicron cases, however, say that the patients have not reported any severe symptoms. “So far we have treated 70 patients with omicron, of which 50 have been discharged. Almost all of them except for probably three persons were asymptomatic. And, even in those who did have symptoms, they had mild symptoms such as low-grade fever, sore throat, and one patient had diarrhoea,” said Dr Suresh Kumar, director, Lok Nayak hospital. All but two persons were fully vaccinated; the two had received one dose, according to him.

Even with milder symptoms, experts say it is better to mask up. “So far, what we have learnt is that omicron variant does not cause very severe disease, hospitals have mostly seen people with fever, sore throat and body ache. However, what has also been seen is that the infection is happening even in those who have received both doses of the vaccine. What this means is that we have to depend on masking and social distancing more,” said Dr Ekta Gupta, professor of virology at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences.

3 bars sealed over ‘protocol violation’

New Delhi: Taking strict action in compliance with the Covid restrictions under yellow alert of GRAP, the Southeast District Magistrate has sealed three high-end clubs and bars — Underpass Cafe at Lajpat Nagar, Blaq at Defence Colony and Mnky House Bar at Nehru Place for alleged overcrowding and violating guidelines.

Southeast District Magistrate (DM) Vishwendra said, “Keeping in view the emergence of Omicron variant and persistent rise in Covid cases, we are conducting frequent raids and surprise inspection at restaurants and bars. During such a raid, these bars were found violating the Covid-appropriate behaviour (CAB). People were seen without masks and these places were overcrowded. We have sealed these premises for prevention of spread and containment of Covid.” —ENS

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